Research in 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.



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.

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! Please contact us at mail@highparknature.org


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.

Visit project on iNaturalist.ca.


Research Articles

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

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 (.pdf)



The Toronto Ravine Revitalization Study team is based in University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry. From 2015 to 2018, we have completed a three-year project resurveying four ravines along the Don Valley previously inventoried in the 1970s, and our final report Toronto Ravine Study: 1977 – 2017 along with six component studies conducted by graduate students are available on our project website. Report summary and full report


Benthic Invertebrate Sampling

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.)

Source: Toronto Region Conservation Authority

More about TRCA's water quality monitoring programs.

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


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


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

How to Tell if Your Restoration Project is successful, A presentation by Dr. Dawn Bazely to the High Park Stewards, Jan 24, 2015


Why don’t ecologists get more respect? Dawn R. Bazely Biology Department, York University, Toronto Wed 29 Oct 2014, Carolinian Canada Ecoystem Recovery Forum, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hamilton, ON, Canada


Invasive Plants of Canadian Woodlands – Scientific Challenges


A study of prescribed burns, tree and shrub layer in oak savanna plant communities in Southern Ontario: Pinery Provincial Park, Rondeau Provincial Park and Point Pelee National Park


The Distribution and Abundance of Fire-scarred Trees in Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada




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..."



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, also listen to CBC interview


Bee research by Scott MacIvor - Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology, UTSC

See publications and Scott MacIvor's website.

Nestbox prototype
Scott MacIvor


Pollination is an essential ecosystem service required to sustain flowering plant diversity. Unfortunately, pollinator diversity is declining worldwide, especially that of bees. Whereas considerable attention is given to the decline of managed honeybees, few have assessed the decline of wild bees, their pollinating services, and whether it is possible to enhance their presence through habitat creation and management. There is evidence that wild, solitary bees, including cavity-nesting bees which nest in an assortment of small holes, can persist in urban habitat altered by human activity; however, the ecological diversity of wild bees, their movement between patches, and how to manage their populations and pollination services remains greatly misunderstood.

The objectives of this study are to quantify the direct and indirect local and landscape effects limiting wild, cavity-nesting bee biodiversity movement between urban habitat fragments. The goals are to obtain a spatial understanding of wild bee biodiversity for the city of Toronto to connect urban land use and building design strategies, such as green roofs, more directly to bee populations, and inform conversation on international bee declines and monitoring protocols.

Nest boxes were set up in High Park in 2011 as part of this study, as well as in various neighbourhoods.

See also Bees


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. (photo source)

Assessing Wild Lupine Habitat in Ontario, Canada, for the Feasibility of Reintroduction of the Karner Blue Butterfly Masters Thesis by Jesse Jarvis, Dec. 2014

See also Recovery Strategy for the Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus), and Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) in Canada [Proposed] - 2017

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Content last modified on February 19, 2019, at 12:23 AM EST