June 2021

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Lac Hertel, an invaluable lab for researchers


Photo Credit : Egor Katkov


In Lac Hertel, these cyanobacterial — also called blue-green algae — blooms have become increasingly common over the past few decades. However, it is not clear why this is occurring. Generally, cyanobacteria growth is stimulated by excess nutrients, such as sewage, or agricultural runoff. However, neither of these nutrient sources are present in Lac Hertel. Other factors that could come into play are increasing temperatures, CO2 concentrations, and the increasing number of geese which could be enriching the lake by feeding on the surrounding fields and excreting their nutrient-rich waste into the lake. All these factors can interact to have unforeseen consequences on the ecosystem.


To understand of how these different effects and interactions affect Lac Hertel’s phytoplankton and zooplankton, researchers use a floating dock with a series of experimental units called “mesocosms”. Each mesocosm is a barrel that contains several hundred liters of lake water, to which any combination of treatments can be applied.

Partnership agreement between McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki

Collaboration highlights cultural value of the Gault Nature Reserve

Photo Credit : Alex Tran


Sharing a common interest in the protection of the natural and cultural resources of the Gault Nature Reserve, McGill University and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki (W8banaki) are pleased to announce a partnership agreement welcoming the Nation’s members to the site to practice their cultural activities.


Mont St. Hilaire, whose Abenaki name wigw8madensis means small mountain in the shape of a house, is located on the Ndakina, the ancestral territory of the W8banaki Nation. This culturally significant space for the Abenaki has long served as a site of meeting and exchange.


Watch the video

One is the loneliest number


Male Indigo Bunting—Photo credit : Daniel Jauvin


This bright blue bird observed in southern Quebec, the indigo bunting is the type of bird that birders dream of spotting. These members of the cardinalidae family prefer to build their nests in clearings, hedgerows and other bushy landscapes. They are solitary creatures, and the male will fiercely defend his territory during mating season, singing a complex song that does double duty as a mating call. He will put on a striking show in hopes of attracting one or more females, which are not blue but rather a warm brown, darker on their upperparts.

By Johanne Ménard from the Société d’ornithologie de la Vallée du Richelieu. To learn more about the SOVDR and become a member: sovdr.org. (This text appeared in issue 12 of Nature sauvage)

Tips for a successful hike


Photo Credit: Gault Nature Reserve


The Gault Nature Reserve has a network of hiking trails to suit all comers, regardless of your goals, experience level or pace. No matter which route you choose, we have a few tips to help you make the most of your time in the great outdoors.

Blast from the past

Have you been to the cottage?


Photo credit : Société d’histoire et de généalogie Beloeil-Mont-Saint-Hilaire, collection Armand Cardinal 1947-1957


This historic building, a few steps away from Lake Hertel, houses an all-season rest area with public bathrooms, along with accommodations mainly occupied by researchers and students in the summer. If you’re a frequent visitor to the reserve, you’ve no doubt stopped by the cottage (le gite) at some point on your way in or out. But did you know that it wasn’t always where it is today? It used to stand on the site of the Gault House (the red house on the right side of the map).


Brigadier Gault lived at the cottage for a decade after retiring. In 1957, he had the cottage moved to its current location, overlooking the lake near the beach, so he could build the Gault House. Construction on the new house was finished in 1958.


The archive photo above shows the former site of the cottage, now occupied by the Gault House.


About our Blasts from the Past
As owner and guardian of the Gault Nature Reserve, we plan to celebrate the university’s bicentennial by publishing a monthly photo in InfoGault. Each photo will capture a moment from the history of this beautiful site.


General public — Free online lecture series


To mark McGill University’s bicentennial anniversary, the Faculty of Science is putting on the Bicentennial Mini-Science lecture series, a monthly series of online lectures open to the public. All events are livestreamed, and there is no need to register to attend.


Upcoming lecture:

Thursday, July 8, 6 to 7 p.m. — Envisioning a sustainable future food system with Graham MacDonald, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography


View the event schedule here



422, chemin des Moulins

Mont-Saint-Hilaire (Québec) J3G 4S6


Téléphone : 450 467-4010


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