Research in Toronto's High Park

Every year, numerous research studies and educational programs are conducted in High Park, ranging from elementary and high schools to post-secondary studies and post-graduate theses. For example, see the Vegetation Sampling Protocol study below

Urban Forestry, City of Toronto, conducts monitoring in High Park on an ongoing basis, including:

Please see the relevant web pages for more details.

Research Available Online

Google Scholar has many articles available for viewing. Here are the results for searching habitat restoration "High Park" Toronto.

We want to feature your research!

If you are conducting research related to High Park, we'd be happy to post a summary or link regarding your results on this website! Feel free to contribute a short article and photos to highlight your research to the public and other researchers. Please contact us.


Removal of any animals or plant material is forbidden by park bylaw, unless approved in advance. Proposals for research and collection should be run by the park supervisor. If necessary the park supervisor may consult additional City staff regarding whether or not the proposed activity is appropriate (e.g. nature research in a sensitive area).

Collectors and researchers should ask the park supervisor if they need to obtain a Park Access Agreement for their proposed activity. City staff may suggest modifications or prohibit certain aspects of the research.

Citizen Science in High Park

Volunteers can make a meaningful contribution to scientific knowledge about High Park by participating in citizen science projects, either on their own or through an organized project.

Here are some examples of ongoing studies taking place in High Park.

To find out how you can contribute, follow the links above or contact High Park Nature.

Eastern Screech-Owl. Photo: Ali Pashang
Eastern Screech-Owl. Photo: Ali Pashang

Featured Research


High Park Nature Centre Project

Our goal is to collect and organize observations within High Park in Toronto, Ontario. This includes all plants, mammals, insects, fungi and any other wild living things you can find.

Help us form an updated inventory of sightings that will aid in future education and research, and help to give us all a better understanding of the diversity and abundance of life within these 399 acres.

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City of Toronto Urban Forestry is working in partnership with the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry to establish an ecological monitoring program for Toronto's ravines and natural areas.

Monitoring began in 2019 using the Vegetation Sampling Protocol (VSP).  This protocol combines proven and widely applied vegetation sampling methods. VSP is currently being used by several municipalities across southern Ontario, strengthening collaboration across multiple agencies.

The comprehensive vegetation monitoring will look at tree, shrub and herbaceous composition within each plot. The establishment of these plot locations will allow for future monitoring and evaluation of ecosystem changes. There are currently 10 VSP sites within High Park with 304 additional sites throughout Toronto.

For other University of Toronto Faculty of Forestry research, see the Toronto Ravine Revitalization Study: study details and project website.



Benthic Invertebrate Sampling, West Nile Virus Monitoring

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority samples water bodies to test for West Nile virus. Here are the results of a sample taken at Grenadier Pond in June 2012. It was collected with a D-frame net along the bank of the pond. The collection site is near the south-west corner of the pond. There are different ways to collect quantitative samples. This one was a presence/absence type of sample. (It does not comment on the presence/absence of West Nile virus.)

More about TRCA's monitoring programs.

More about West Nile virus status and control measures in Toronto.

Latest West Nile Virus Report

Restoring Ecological Function of Littoral Macrophytes in Grenadier Pond

Thesis by Christine Tu. Evaluating the Lake Management Approach, Applied Biomanipulation Techniques and Progress in Restoring Ecological Function of Littoral Macrophytes in Grenadier Pond, Canada, 2000

Download PDF

Mesh bag for Wild Lupine Study, M Blondeau 2022. Photo: Karen Yukich

Assessing Wild Lupine’s Reproductive Success through its Distribution

Research project by Maggie Blondeau, McGill University (in progress summer 2022).

Wild Lupine, or Lupinus perennis, is a perennial flowering legume that can be found in Eastern North America, all the way to the American Mid-West. Little is known about this species' ability to reproduce successfully in northern, Canadian populations. My project aims to determine how successful northern populations (including High Park) are at reproducing compared to those near the core of its distribution.

Download PDF


Links provided by Dr. Dawn Bazely, Faculty in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, York University

Bazely Biology Lab

Wild Bee Research

  • Red Bud Pollination by Solitary Bees. Multi-year study led by University of Toronto PhD Candidate, Charlotte de Keyzer. See study website.
  • Bee research by Scott MacIvor - Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology, UTSC. See publications.

Rare Beetle found in High Park

In 2005, a British scientist, Paul F. Whitehead, found a tiny rare tenebrionid beetle, Pentaphyllus testaceus in a dead stump of Black Oak in High Park - the first North American record of a species that is on the Red List in Europe. He reported his findings in the Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, 27th July, 2007 Vol. 143, a British scientific journal.

Karner Blue Butterfly Recovery


Other Research

Compilation of Research material

Katherine Orr has prepared a list of research articles on tallgrass prairie, invasive species and other related items. The abstracts are available to read but many of the articles must be accessed through online research libraries and other resources available through academic institutions. Academic Research List, 2012.

Shifting Conceptions of Nature in Toronto: A Comparative Study of High Park and Rouge Park. Khan, Zahrah, York University, 2015.

Fire History Reconstruction in the Black Oak (Quercus velutina) Savanna of High Park, Toronto. Dinh, T., N. Hewitt & T.D. Drezner. 2015. Natural Areas Journal, 35(3): 468-475 "We employed tree-ring analysis to reconstruct the fire history of High Park, Toronto, Canada, in one of the largest remnants of black oak (Quercus velutina) savanna in Ontario...Our records suggest that most of the mature black oak stems established synchronously, around 1865, following an apparently extensive fire event or set of events..."

Water levels in Lake Ontario 4230–2000 years B.P.: evidence from Grenadier Pond, Toronto, Canada; Mccarthy and McAndrews, 1988. Journal of Paleolimnology. "The transgression of a Grenadier Pond was studied from cores along a transect from the bar that separates the pond from Lake Ontario to the marsh on the north shore. Radiocarbon dates of the transition from swamp peat to pond marl in five cores provide estimates of the rate of water level rise since 4230 years B.P. These estimates are supported by changes in sediment type and in abundance of pollen and seeds of aquatic plants. There were three short intervals of accelerated water level rise in Grenadier Pond, around 4200, 3000, and 2000 years B.P., when water levels rose up to 2 m instantaneously, within the resolution of radiocarbon dating. Sedimentological and paleobotanical data suggest that Grenadier Pond was an open embayment of Lake Ontario until 1970-1850 years B.P., when it was isolated by the bar, and therefore sediments deposited prior to this time reflect water levels in Lake Ontario..."

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