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Heard a Whip-poor-will lately? Stewarding Muskoka in a time of change

By Dr. Peter F Sale



Held on Thursday, September 12, 2013 in the Active Living Centre in Huntsville, Ontario. Admission was by donation.






We have all heard that the world is losing biodiversity. What does this mean? Does it matter? Is it happening here in Muskoka? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this talk.


The Muskoka ecosystem has always changed, and there have been times in the distant past when Muskoka was very different to today. Biodiversity loss is one part of that change. Now the pace of change is greater than at any time in recorded history, and the changes are being caused largely by us.


The good news is that we know a lot about the causes of change, and we have the power to moderate some changes while helping our environment cope with others. Our challenge now is to inspire our community to want to make the effort that effective stewardship will demand. This requires that we all come to truly value our environment and understand the many ways in which it sustains our lives because we only take care of the things we value.


Ironically, our threatened and endangered species can play an important role in helping to re-build the connections to environment that our society has lost. I’ll talk about change, causes of change, and loss of species, but I’ll also talk about how we can join in helping our Muskoka environment weather the changes now under way. Whip-poor-wills will be mentioned, but they probably won’t be heard, and I do not plan to try and imitate them.


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About Dr. Peter F Sale

Peter Sale

Dr. Peter F Sale is Assistant Director at United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health and is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Windsor. Educated at the University of Toronto and the University of Hawaii, his research into ecology of coral reefs spanned a career at the University of Sydney, (1968-87), University of New Hampshire (1988-93), and University of Windsor (1994-2006).


His work has focused primarily on reef fish ecology, most recently on aspects of juvenile ecology, recruitment and connectivity. He has done research in Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean and the Middle East, and visited reefs in many places in between. He has successfully used his fundamental science research to develop and guide projects in international development and sustainable coastal marine management in the Caribbean and the Indo-Pacific. His laboratory has produced over 200 technical publications and he has edited three books dealing with marine ecology.


He now lives with his wife Donna in Muskoka while leading projects applying science to coastal marine management in tropical regions around the world. His recent book, Our Dying Planet, tells the story of our impacts on the environment from the perspective of an ecologist who has seen environmental decline with his own eyes.