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     Bruce Peninsula Population
Team Leaders:

Michael Patrikeev, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Heritage Canada

Judy Rhodes-Munk, Niagara Escarpment Commission

Suzanne Robinson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

John Gerrath (advisor), Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Bruce Peninsula regional population is confined to the Bruce Peninsula and Cove Island on the western side of Georgian Bay (and perhaps scattered localities around the periphery of Manitoulin Island). Historically common (LeRay 1930), Massasaugas in this population still occur from near Wiarton (4445'N) north to the tip of the peninsula (4515'N) in Bruce (and perhaps Manitoulin) County. As with the Georgian Bay population, habitat heterogeneity and the behavioral ecology of Massasaugas have probably given rise to a series of demographically and genetically isolated local sub-populations across the peninsula (the pattern of sub-population distribution remains undocumented at present). Importantly, prior to about 1950 the Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay populations are thought to have formed a single, very large regional population, connected via the southern shore of Georgian Bay (Fig. 1, Weller and Oldham 1993). However, the high degree of genetic divergence between the Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay populations suggests that these two regional populations were genetically isolated from one another long before the arrival of Europeans and any major changes to the landscape (Gibbs et al.1997 ).

A DVD on Working in Massasauga Habitat is available on-line at the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve web site.

Visit the Bruce Peninsula National Park's Website

Photograph of Massasauga crossing road © Ethan Meleg, Parks Canada

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