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QCBS research showcase
Emergence of lyme disease in QuebecCombined impact of habitat fragmentation and climate change on the emergence of Lyme disease in Quebec
Wildlife diseases are generating growing concern on a global scale, for human health as well as for the health of wild and domestic animals. Lyme disease is one of the threat drawing the attention of authorities in Quebec. This disease discovered in the United States in the early 1980s is caused by a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) which is transmitted by a vector, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is the preferred host of this tick and is also known to be very effective to transmit the bacteria to larval ticks feeding on it. Our project aims to better understand the progression of the Lyme disease vector in Quebec, in time and space, as well as to assess the extent to which climate change and habitat fragmentation promote this expansion.
Restoring contaminated soilsBio and phytoremédiation
Mining, oil and gas extraction, agriculture and industrial processes can all contaminate soil with discharges of heavy metals and organic products, thus creating a significant problem worldwide. Genome Canada and Genome Quebec fund research on phytoremediation - a promising new biotechnology that uses plants and their associated microorganisms to rehabilitate contaminated sites. Part of the research aim at testing the effectiveness of phytoremediation of willow cultivars and at characterizing bacteria and fungi as well as the biological processes involved in the degradation of pollutants using approaches of genomics and metagenomics. The sequencing of dozens of genomes of microorganisms that are the most effective in detoxifying the soil, will be done. Cleaning services for contaminated soils represent a market of more than $ 30 billion in Canada.
A green network for biodiversityDesign of an ecological network for Montreal's green belt
The ability of ecosystems and human societies to adapt to the ongoing climate change will depend on our ability to create sustainable landscapes with diverse and resilient socio-ecological networks. The creation of ecological corridors is the conservation strategy most frequently proposed to enhance landscape connectivity. Recent research, however, addresses the challenge of designing ecological networks that are robust to climate change. Our goal is to design a wide ecological network in the Western Lowlands of the St. Lawrence, which maintains biodiversity and sustainable and resilient ecosystems to anticipated climate change and changes in land use in the coming decades. We created maps showing all the forest fragments in the study region and have quantified their contribution to ecological network. This project is providing the information needed by the Quebec government, including the MDDEP and the MNR, municipalities (MRC), local and regional conservation NGOs, as well as researchers and biologists working in the field. We believe that the results will guide the development of Montreal green belt.
Ecological determinants of potential spread of variant raccoon rabies
The overall objective of this research project is to assess the potential spread of raccoon rabies in eastern Canada, through a multidisciplinary approach integrating spatial ecology, landscape genetics, behavioral ecology and population dynamics. To investigate the potential spread of rabies in eastern Canada, we monitor wild populations of raccoons and skunks. We chose these species because they are the two main drivers of the raccoon rabies variant in the United States and Canada. Although raccoons and skunks are very common, there is very little information available on habitat use by these species that would be applicable to the landscapes of Eastern Canada (ie intensive farming and agro-forest landscapes). The acquisition of knowledge on the demographic and behavioral dynamics of wild animals considered a reservoir of rabies is essential to prevent a new outbreak of the disease in Quebec.
Source de financement: FRQNTFanie Pelletier
Inuit traditional activities and climate changeHow climate change is impacting Inuit life
Climate change is affecting Inuit communities and their territory is under rapid changes. Our project is focusing on Inuit perception using interviews with maps to uncover where the land has been modify during the last decade. We see a student (Laura Siegwart Collier) mapping changes in berry patches, fishing and hunting activities with an interpreter (Wilson Jararuse) and an Elder (Verona Ittulak).
Birds at home!Citizen science project in the Rimouski region
The project "Des nids chez vous" aims to get elementary school kids involved in the observation and monitoring of breeding birds in the Rimouski region. This project is conducted simultaneously in five "Green Brundtland Schools" and in various parcs in the region. The objective of the project is to increase the awareness of citizens to the protection of biodiversity, which is greatly threatened by global change and human activities. This project gets kids, professors and families involved in the observation and monitoring of many common bird species. School kids and their families will be able to follow the activity of birds in nest boxes in their backyard, in schools or in urban parks. Nest boxes (300 in 2014), constructed by la Polyflore de l'École Paul-Hubert, are supplied free of charge. The project as a whole revolves around the collaboration of scientists, parents and kids.
Sugar maple and climate changeWhen the sugar maple climbs up mountains...
Tree species distributions are shifting due to climate change. Various environmental factors can explain these distribution shifts, but their relationship to climate change is not well understood yet. To better understand such relationships, Morgane Urli, a postdoctoral fellow in Mark Vellend's lab, is leading a project at Mont-Mégantic focusing on a tree species of economic interest in southern Quebec: the sugar maple. This project aims to determine the factors controlling sugar maple regeneration along an altitudinal gradient including the boreal-temperate forest ecotone. The abundance of mature trees decreases with elevation up to the tree line, but they observed that seedling density is greater at high elevation than at low elevation. Climate change might make habitats more favourable to seedlings than they were previously. However, it is surprising to observe weaker seedling regeneration at lower elevation right in the center of the sugar maple distribution area. Two principal hypotheses to explain such observations are a greater herbivory pressure from insects at lower elevation and a varying water availability for seedlings along the altitudinal gradient. A transplant experiment is currently underway to test these hypotheses. More information on this experiment is available at chercheurjourapresjour.blogspot.ca.
Batwatch!Help save the bats!
New initiatives have been implemented to allow canadian research to face the threat of the white-nose syndrome that is decimating bat populations all over Canada, the United States and Europe. The problem is such as 90 to 100% of those touched by this microscopic fungus have died in the last few years. Thus, a new partnership between the MFFP, the QCBS and the University of Winnipeg has permitted the elaboration of a program that encourages the participation of civilians. They are given the duty of reporting the presence of abnormal behaviors or of dead bats. This will provide more data for researchers to monitor and help prevent the eradication of bat colonies. For more information or to participate, please visit: Chauve souris aux abris
Games Institutions PlayAddressing the challenges of socio-ecological systems' multi-level governance
For this project, supported by a QCBS seed grant, a group of student members (from the Gordon Hickey, Murray Humphries and Ismael Vaccaro labs) developed a conceptual framework to better highlight the problem of inter-institutional gaps between informal and formal institutions. The framework was applied to four international case studies. They found that understanding the complex interactions between institutions can provide substantial knowledge for practitioners and policy-makers seeking more effective frameworks to support sustainable resource management. The article will soon be submitted to the journal Ecology and Society. Authors: H. M. Tuihedur Rahman, Arlette Saint Ville, Andrew M. Song, June Y. T. Po, Elsa Berthet, Jeremy Brammer, Nicolas D. Brunet, Lingaraj Jayaprakash, Kristen Lowitt, Archi Rastogi, Graeme Reed, Gordon M. Hickey.
Sex determination in freshwater mussels
Contrary to most animals that inherit mitochondrial DNA maternally, several species of bivalves have a fundamentally different mode of transmission, known as Doubly Uniparental Inheritance (DUI). This unique system is characterized by the presence of two distinct mitochondrial genomes: a genome M transmitted by males and found in sperm cells, and a genome F transmitted by females, present in all tissues in females, and in somatic tissues in males. In freshwater mussels, some closely related gonochoric (separate sexes) species have the DUI system, while others hermaphroditic species have lost the mitochondrial male genome. Our project will aim to determine the relationship between the DUI system and its potential role in sex determination.
Source de financement: NSERCSophie Breton
Training on invasive plants
Continuing education training on invasive plant species recognized by Laval University (continuing education unit) and targeted to environmental managers and consultants. This training allows participants to recognize invasive species and the most recent technical advances in order to curb an invasion.
Conflicts on biodiversityHow do stockbreeders from southern Mexico perceive wildlife predation on their livestock and what conservation tools are available to address such conflicts?
Large predators are a cause for concern and a source of various conflicts among various stakeholders regarding their conservation. Among the tools that have been developed to reduce the effects of predation on livestock, compensation programs are one means of dissuading stockbreeders from retaliating against predators by eliminating them. Evaluations of compensation programs are often controversial because, among other reasons, they consider ecological benefits or cost-benefit ratios, but rarely do they consider the view point of the stockbreeders. However, the conservation of large predators ultimately requires the cooperation of stockbreeders. We are interested in the perceptions of stockbreeders regarding the effects of predation by large predators on livestock in an area of Mexico that is home to the country’s largest jaguar population. We are investigating the social factors influencing perceptions of a compensation program that has been implemented over the last few years to improve it so that it meets both jaguar conservation needs and reduces the problems of stockbreeders who are facing livestock losses.
Green and blue infrasctures in urban areas
Global changes (GC) is increasingly threatening the green infrastructures of our cities, especially trees and its associated vegetation. In fact, these are more and more affected by increased environmental stress levels, insects and exotic diseases. These trees provide, directly and indirectly, as a part of an urban terrestrial ecosystem functioning, numerous ecosystem services which are essential to our well-being. These services are in danger of being significantly reduced in response to growing threats caused by GCs. The underlying hypothesis of this project is that the resistance and resilience of urban and suburban ecosystems, and consequently the ecosystem services which are provided, can be strengthened by favoring a greater structural diversity of ecosystems, a greater functional diversity of trees and associated vegetation and a greater connectivity between green spaces in response to the GC and associated predictions for southern Quebec over the next few years. We will work in Montreal, Ottawa/Gatineau and Quebec City in order to plan biodiversity corridors, to measure flows of ecosystem services and to make an economic evaluation.
The LEAP projectA state-of-the-art infrastructure for experiments on freshwater ecosystems
LEAP is a state-of-the-art field infrastructure for experiments with aquatic ecosystems. The site includes a laboratory and an array of 96 freshwater pond ecosystems located in the research area of the Gault Nature Reserve (GNR), Mont Saint Hilaire, Qc. Many key features of these pond mesocosms can be manipulated. We will combine methods in experimental community ecology and evolution to probe the response of the evolving freshwater ecosystems, held under controlled conditions, as they respond to multiple environmental stressors. Questions related to the evolutionary resilience of freshwater ecosystems are central to Quebec's environmental concerns because 10% of the surface of Quebec is covered by freshwater (e.g., half-a-million lakes). LEAP will foster Quebec's and Canada's commitments to environmental policy by providing research at the cutting edge of applied ecology and evolution at a time of rapid global change. LEAP is embedded in a national and international network of collaborators. LEAP will engage many students and postdoc and so will be a source of highly qualified professionals at a time of growing need for basic knowledge about the resilience of natural ecosystems to anthropogenic environmental change.
Source de financement: Canada Foundation for Innovation, Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology, NSERC and McGill University.Andrew Gonzalez
Biodiversity responses to hydroelectric reservoir managementFeatured in Canal Savoir
Hydrological modifications to lakes and rivers are a pervasive form of environmental change in Quebec and around the world. While there are clear social benefits to regulate aquatic ecosystems (e.g. flood control, hydroelectricity), the ecological impacts are less clear and represent issues that local communities in Quebec are wrestling with. In particular, winter water level drawdowns are a common practice in north temperate reservoirs, but ecological research on this topic is limited. In partnership with QCBS and local community groups, we have conducted a synthesis of the literature as well as a field survey of reservoirs. Our research has shown that many juvenile and adult fish populations show a surge in abundance following reservoir creation but fish communities as a whole appear to be unaffected by the level of water level drawdown. In contrast, high macroinvertebrate abundances tend to only occur in nearshore sites if they are not exposed by drawdown, suggesting that benthic resources for fish could be limiting. We are now evaluating whether fish growth and diets are altered by water level drawdown. Check out the video made by FQRNT and Canal Savoir covering our preliminary findings. See video here.
Traditional Animal Foods of Indigenous Peoples of Northern North AmericaA great free online resource
This web publication aims to describe and reference the published literature on traditional animal foods known and used by Indigenous Peoples of northern North America. It features information on the locations of the cultures whose peoples have used, and often continue to use, these foods. The publication focuses on Canada, Alaska, Greenland and the northern United States of America, but many of the animal species presented here also occur in the northern latitudes of Europe and Asia. In sum, data for 527 species of animals is presented, drawing information from over 490 ethnographic sources, an additional 91 unique sources reporting nutritional information, and 357 sources containing basic biological information.
Source de financement: CINE, Grid ArendalMurray Humphries