January 01, 2023

Happy New Year

Just as it is about to wrap up it's sixth year, the Canaiad Project has reached over 8,000 observations, as predicted!

Enthusiasm from our countless contributors is still strong, and observations keep pouring in, a testament to the keen interest many iNat patrons have for our freshwater unionids.

And our core team of identifiers remains as reliable as ever: @pdsmith , @amr_mn and @sam10turner ! Thank you so much guys for your contribution to making this project a fun and stimulating endeavour. Couldn't hope for a more enthusiastic troupe of keen-eyed volunteers.

The way things are headed, 2023 could realistically see us pass the huge milestone of 10,000 observations, a number that didn't even come close to looking likely when this project was still just an idea a few years ago. A respectable open-source data bank for our Canadian freshwater mussel species is steadily taking shape, adding so much new and important knowledge about their distribution.

So keep those observations coming. Happy and safe clamming for 2023!


Posted on January 01, 2023 01:18 PM by redgarter redgarter | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 20, 2022

New year new goals

The Canaiad project is now five years old! How time flies. And like most youngsters it just keeps on growing, and growing...

Now closing in on the 7,000 observations mark, we could possibly reach 8,000 by the end of the year, an impressive number for a fauna that isn't exactly mainstream in the hearts of most amateur naturalists. But freshwater mussels keep attracting the attention of an ever growing number of enthusiastic and prolific fans, be it collecting observations or identifying them. On that note, three identifiers keep standing out well above the rest: @pdsmith , @amr_mn and @sam10turner are just plain relentless and steadfast in their support of our project, always ready and eager to challenge or be challenged by their colleagues!
So again a big thank you gentlemen for your enormous contribution.

Also, our swelling data bank has attracted the attention of some provincial and federal ministries that are keen on integrating it with their own. The NHIC (Rare Species of Ontario) has already done so, and the MFFP of Quebec and DFO (Dept Fisheries and Oceans Canada) are starting to look at ways to follow suit.
A good reminder to keep up the quality of our observations. Quality data is useful data!

Keep filling those distribution gaps, and happy - and safe - clamming,

Dr. Phil

Posted on April 20, 2022 11:53 AM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 20, 2021

Little project that could

It's been almost 5 years now since our humble project was born on iNaturalist, and my our baby has grown!
Over a thousand observers and well on our way to 7,000 observations in the not too distant future. Quite a few range extensions as well.

It seem our native freshwater mollusks keep generating more and more interest in nature enthusiasts, citizens scientists and even a few academics. This field of science is still very much a young one, a world in need of explorations, filled with unknowns and discoveries in waiting, so we expect quite a few more surprises in the years ahead.

The year is at an end once again, so before the Holidays are upon us it is a good time to give heartfelt thanks to all contributors that have sent in their observations, no matter how few, but also to another, smaller group of precious collaborators, our handful of dedicated identifiers, who spend way too many hours of their free time scrutinizing hundreds of fuzzy photographs in search of subtle clues to help certify an iD. I hereby name our three main trusty musketeer's, Paul @pdsmith , Sam @sam10turner , and the dogged, cross-border, semi-anonymous mussel-hound Minnesotan @amr_mn , to name only a few of those upstanding iNat dwellers. Those enthusiastic debaters have lent me a most welcome hand in processing the tsunami of observations that have poured in over the last year, just when the task was getting overwhelming, so a huge thank you to you guys!

Merry Holydays to each and all, and stay safe.


Dr. Phil

Posted on December 20, 2021 01:23 AM by redgarter redgarter | 2 comments | Leave a comment

June 09, 2021

Good news, bad news

As predicted, the Canaiad project has reached the milestone of 5,000 observations, thanks to the collective efforts of over 750 contributors, a number of freshwater mussel observers that just keeps on growing year after year..

Now for the bad news: 2021 seems to be the year us humans will slowly emerge from our pandemic crisis, but for mussels, a recurring environmental threat is well under way that is already causing important casualties among their ranks: drought. Water levels in Eastern Canada are clearly trending towards historical low levels, and have been very early on to boot, since the spring thaw. April and May have seen record low precipitations in many areas, and both the Saint-Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers are already at levels that would be considered low only by mid-summer. So unless the rains pick up, a great many mussels will perish, left high and dry on gently sloping shores as the water recedes faster than they can move toward deeper channels. Also, species that usually tend to inhabit deeper water will be more easily reached by their predators, namely muskrats, that will have an easier time diving to reach them.
But lemonade can be made with those beached lemons: this sort of somewhat depressing natural event is a opportunity to survey many sites that were otherwise inaccessible in prior years and record species that are usually harder to find. Case in point, even if it's still early June, a new locality of Alewife Floater has been found in the Upper Saint-Lawrence just last week, including young specimens that attest to recent recruitment, an extreme rarity in the Saint-Lawrence corridor for that species.

So happy hunting, and keep an eye out for those lemons...


Posted on June 09, 2021 12:07 PM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 16, 2021

New year, new hopes

Hopefully 2021 will improve on the her predecessor, and everyone one will get a bit of a reprieve, as a turn-round is badly needed by many of us.

Spring is springing already in the Southern parts of BC and Ontario, so now is the time to start setting some clamming targets for the coming season. Find new watersheds to explore around vacation destinations, or just pit-stops along the way where your travels will make you cross some suitable riverine habitats.
One needs only to glance at our Canaiad data map to see where the data gaps that need filling are. We're counting on your precious citizen-scientist contributions.

Also always looking for some enthusiastic new expert identifiers for all the records that keep pouring in from coast to coast, such as @sam10turner who joined our humble little project last year and has been a prolific contributor since. Thank you Sam for your ongoing help!



Posted on March 16, 2021 11:38 AM by redgarter redgarter | 6 comments | Leave a comment

October 21, 2020

Bad year, good year...

2020 is slowly but surely winding down, but with all of its horrible and disturbing chaos roaring back into full force. Hopefully the new year will bring the reprieve we're all pining for.
But it hasn't been all bad: our project has passed the 4000 observations mark just a few weeks ago, after passing the 3000 mark earlier in the year. So the BIG 5 (thousand) is well within sight at some point during 2021!

Over 700 observers have contributed to this effort to date, and we now have two new and enthusiastic curators, @dwaynesabine and @pdsmith who have graciously agreed to join and lend a hand to the growing task of confirming ever growing numbers of observations in need of IDs. Dwayne takes care of his area of expertise, the Maritimes freshwater malacofauna, and Paul tackle the same for his neck of the woods, Southern Ontario. So a heartfelt thank you to those two gentlemen!



Posted on October 21, 2020 12:11 PM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 09, 2020

Productive year

This 2020 won't be forgotten soon for so many reasons, but it doesn't seem to have put a damper on project contributors sending in great observations. Earlier this season we were nearing the 3,000 observations mark, and now there's a good chance we might reach 4,000 before our third year of operation winds down. Our little open-source data bank is little no more!

Many thanks to all contributors, large and small.

Keep on Musseling on!


Dr. Phil

Posted on September 09, 2020 12:38 PM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 21, 2020

Summer time, musseling time

Hi all,

COVID is now part of our daily lives, and our routines are slowly but surely resuming, including all your favorite field activities that are very COVID-compatible.
The seasonal heat waves are already upon us, and with them comes lack of rains. Bad for the crops, but ideal conditions to go explore your favorite waterways in search of shells and live mussels on the move in search of deeper water as levels recede.
Our data bank is well on it's way to reach the 3,000 observations mark before the waters rise again in September, so keep those observations coming!
On that note, quality is always better than quantity, so as a rule of thumb it is best to submit no more than a few specimens from the same collecting site on the same day if it clearly appears to be the same species. Unless some individuals found are of a different age class for the same species, such repetitive data is just just redundant without significant benefit, and requires more time for peers to review for proper identification. Please keep in mind that for some of the more active iNat identifiers this type of pro bono homework can add up to quite a few hours every week.
Multiple specimens of the same species found at any one site can also be submitted as one single observation with a group photo, along with a representative single specimen of the same group to facilitate reviewing by peers.

Happy musseling,


Posted on June 21, 2020 06:09 PM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 21, 2020

Uncertain times...

I just wanted to send my heartfelt support to all our contributors and the iNat community in general, during these dark and worrisome times. This pandemic will change most of our lives for a very long time, and for most it won't be for the best. Hopefully things will get better sooner than later. At least it is safe to get out in nature, one of the very few activities left that is compatible with the new normal of social distancing.

So get out there when you can, and remember that natures' best little spots are also the ones that are the safest contagion-wise, as they are furthest from society, and it just so happens that this is also where most new iNat discoveries await you to find them!

Take care,

Dr. Phil

Posted on March 21, 2020 05:04 PM by redgarter redgarter | 1 comment | Leave a comment

November 23, 2019

Winter pause

Since we're now entering the long pause of winter for active observations, I wanted to remind everyone that it's a good opportunity to peruse your old field pictures and find older data that you perhaps haven't loaded up to iNat yet, or forgot to, of thought you had but didn't in the end, for so many reasons.
Observations dating back to 2017 and earlier, before the Canaiad project was launched, are most likely to be in that category. I just started that exercise myself, and have found well over 100 "dormant" observations in my archives!

All these retrieved orphan observations have helped push out data toll to the 1,500 mark. Not bad for a specialized data bank that is still in its infancy!

So good luck with your data mining until next spring!

Dr. Phil

Posted on November 23, 2019 07:27 PM by redgarter redgarter | 0 comments | Leave a comment