Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Geography & Environmental Studies

Program Name/Specialization



Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Mary-Louise Byrne

Advisor Role



Known as home to rare species of flora and fauna, and their critical habitats, Northwest beach of Point Pelee National Park has undergone significant ecological and infrastructural changes in the past decades. A number of important management challenges have emerged, including conservation of endangered Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) which inhabit the extensive dune system within the park. This research investigates key factors for sand dune ecosystem restoration in Northwest beach of Point Pelee with particular attention to the conservation of Skink habitat. Random stratified sampling method was used to collect sand and vegetation samples from the disturbed and natural areas. Sand samples were also collected from the sand piles, which is a part of dune restoration process initiated by the Parks Canada.

Three aspects were considered: grain size distribution of dune sediments, vegetation assemblage and character of the dune associated species, land use and land cover change. Grain size distribution indicated that samples from most of the sand piles contained some amounts of clay/silt and pebble sized grains making it unfavourable for wind action, resulting in no significant contribution to dune formation. Most of the sand samples collected along the foredunes and water edge were appropriate for sediment transport. Shannon and Simpson’s Diversity Index was calculated as 1.48 and 0.67 for natural area as compared to 0.71 and 0.35 for the disturbed area, which indicate unfavourable species diversity for dune restoration in disturbed areas.

The research also focused on the spatial and temporal changes in land use and land cover in NW beach area of Point Pelee using aerial photos for 1959, 1977, 2006 and 2015. Different time series of the aerial photos were chosen based on their availability. The Ecological land classification system for Southern Ontario were used to classify the aerial photos for land use and land cover (LULC). LULC classes included Shoreline vegetation, Deciduous thicket, Sand Barren and Dune Type, and Infrastructures (includes Transportation and services) for the entire Northwest Beach area. Segmentation and classification tools was used to classify four different time series of aerial photos.

Grain size distribution and vegetation assemblage for dune associated species were calculated to determine the factors limiting habitat restoration process. Based on the results alternate management strategies for dune restoration in Point Pelee were recommended. The study offers key insights on the importance of timely detection, analysis and visualisation of dynamic changes for habitat restoration and maintaining ecological integrity of the Northwest beach area of Point Pelee.

Convocation Year


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