Fred and Aleta in pursuit of Ligumia nasuta at Fishing Lake 23 May 2015.
We're situated on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain in Bishops Mills, Grenville County, Ontario, Canada.
We work at learning, writing about and illustrating the landscape and the natural communities that we live among and have studied, both locally and all across the glaciated part of North America.
Forty-five years ofquotes
and sayings from the
Marigold the Dog, Fred, and Aleta, Christmas 2008.
Our work is natural history exploration (by collecting specimens and data that document the distribution and abundance of species), interpretation (through popular books and workshops in methods of illustrated journal keeping), illustration (primarily in ink, watercolour, & oils), & analysis (of distribution, abundance, and geographic variation of organisms).
In the past, the species we focused on were predominantly Amphibians and reptiles, but recently we're increasingly working with Crayfish, invasive alien Plants, uncommon species of trees, and various Mollusks: the many species of land snails which are an under-appreciated aspect of Canada's biodiversity, and the subtly lovely Unionid mussels which are our largest invertebrate animals, threatened by siltation, pollution, and invasive alien species.
After a couple of decades when our "work" focused on exploration across Canada in the preparation of popular books, and collecting for the National Museum of Natural Sciences, in 1993 we began to call ourselves the Biological Checklist of the Kemptville Creek Drainage Basin, hoping to create a database that would contain records of all organisms in the drainage basin, based on information computerized by governments, museums, & other inventory-compilers, naturalists' field notes, and the scientific literature. In 1997 we initiated the founding of the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum to provide a home for the orphaned natural history collections of Carleton University, and in August 2002, opened the Bishops Mills Natural History Centre to further accommodate natural history collections and provide space for all of our endeavours in research, curation, art, and education.
From 2006-2009, we worked with Robert Forsyth, and others, with the support of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to complete the late Wayne Grimm's book on introduced terrestrial Gastropods – Grimm, F. W., R. G. Forsyth, F. W. Schueler, & A. Karstad. 2009 . Identifying Land Snails and Slugs in Canada: Introduced Species and Native Genera. – Identification des escargots et des limaces terrestres au Canada: Espèces introduites et genres indigènes. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa. iv+168 pp.
In 2009-2010, in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature, we undertook revisits to the places we explored in the 1970s and 1980s across Canada, from sea to sea to sea, that we call the Thirty Years Later Expedition, testing the hypotheses we formed then about the course of possible ecological change. This has generalized to nomadic "art and science" visits to places we're called to by various causes, including the Nature Conservancy Canada, the New Brunswick Museum's bioblitzes of Protected Natural Areas, and sites where unfortunate habitat destruction has been proposed. All of this recent activity is reported and illustrated by Aleta's blog of paintings with journal notes.
Since then we've taken to themed exploration in each year, producing an online print-on-demand book from each years exploration - most recently exploration of streams crossing the proposed Energy East pipeline route, which is documented in its own blog of survey results and paintings.