High Park Field Trip Lab Report
On Sunday, September 30 , my classmates and I participated in a field trip to High Park. The purpose of
our field trip was to examine one of the last remaining communities of black oak (Quercus velutina) savanna
communities in Ontario . To clarify, a savanna is a community that has 25% or less of tree covering. High Park is an
Eastern deciduous forest located in the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. The soil composition of the area was
once part of glacial shoreline, containing sandy, well-drained soils and upland areas. This area was once part of an
ancient lake bed which was replaced by Lake Ontario, and its shoreline went just past St. Clair Avenue W. and
Lakeshore Ave. W. in Toronto.
In some parts of the forest, where ants have dug up some parts of the area, we were able to observe the
very well-drained sandy soil composition. Naturally, forest fires occur in this park every 5-15 years, and the
purpose of these fires is to suppress invasive species and promote the regeneration of black oaks.
Currently, park conservation staff has been conducting prescribed burns since 2000 to maintain the
growth of young oaks in the area. When fires are conducted, they do best going uphill. There is a backfire (fire
break), which gets rid of vegetation in an area. When wind is in the area, the fire is started, but it cannot be too
windy. Fire is lit in the corner with a type of fuel. It creeps forward and grows out. Savanna fires are low intensity,
and low to the ground. Fire breaks are peripheral to where they are burning and releases seeds, travelling alone a
path. When fire comes through, light is sent out. The purpose of savanna fires is to preserve an ecosystem for
The park was founded by John Howard, who was responsible for the High Park Management Plan in 1840.
The oak savanna here has been extended and has been a prominent part of High Park’s vegetation. John Howard
donated the park to the City of Toronto, and most of the park has been city property ever since, except for some
1GEOG 2500 High Park Lab Report Instructions. Hewitt, Nina. Published on behalf of York University, Toronto, ON.
1 For this trip, we were in a group tour of the park with our professor, who explained the background
behind the different species in the park, as well as told us information about the species, and some park history.
This paper will explain the different types of vegetation found in the area, as well as detailed information
about them. The information here was told to our group by Professor Nina Hewitt of York University in Toronto.
The species listed below are all native species.
Ragweed was one of the most common species found in the park. Its pollen has barbs on it and these
barbs irritate mucus membranes.
Black oak is a native species to the park region and contains possible evidence of fire events in the past.
Currently, High Park has more old oaks than young oaks, and this is significant to note because there is not much
reproduction. Most of the oaks in High Park were aging and deceased and many of these have been cut down over
the years. Forest fires have been instrumental in maintaining the oak populations; because they help the oak
plants reproduce by germinating and dispersing the seeds. Black oak has meristem tissue, which produces a single
An ecological consequence of the low populations of black oaks is that seedstock for squirrels is reduced,
so squirrels feed on garbage. In a healthy ecosystem, these squirrels would be feeding on the acorns from the oak
trees. However, because there is very little of it, the squirrels are forced to feed on garbage to survive.
Unfortunately, younger stages of black oaks are more vulnerable to death than older ones, because they
do not have as many defenses and adaptation as older oaks to protect themselves. On average, a tree produces
one grown tree out of all the seeds that it disperses, which is a 2% rate. A way that park conservation staff is
promoting the growth of black oaks is by collecting the seeds and planting them in various areas throughout the
park. This is known as artificial population. The benefit of this is that if a tree does not get burned for 15-20 years,
it can make it back up to the canopy.
2 Upon closer observation, we noticed a stump of black oak. This stump is a great habitat for birds and
rodents, and it provides a home for them.
Black oaks and red oaks exist in the ravines, whereas white oaks exist in the rest of the area. Red oaks are tidier
than black oaks. White oaks flourish in burned areas.
Indian rye was another type of native savanna species.
Asters, which are members of the Compositae genus of plants, are another species present in the High Park
conservation area. We noticed sky blue asters, which were quite common in the area.
Bergamot has adapted to dispersing itself exozucoro