Seed Grant 1 : Ecosystem services, biodiversity and forest fragmentation in the Montérégie
Elena Bennett (McGill University), Martin Lechowicz (McGill University), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University),
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Provision of ecosystem services (ES) depends on a complex interplay of biodiversity, landscape structure, and human activity. However, our current understanding of the mechanisms behind the provision of many ES is still rudimentary. Incomplete knowledge of these relationships and their role in provision of ES has led to critical declines in some services. The successful management of current and future ES and biodiversity requires improved understanding of these relationships under realistic management schemes. Our team’s overall goal is to develop and empirically test a conceptual framework linking landscape structure, biodiversity and ES. This framework will then be used to create decision-making tools for local communities to facilitate the management of the landscape for multiple ES in the face of local, regional and global change.
Seed Grant 2 : Plant diversity of peatlands in Québec and ecological niches of vascular plants
Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Claude Lavoie (Université Laval),
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Researchers who have worked on peat land vegetation in Quebec have often characterized the environment where the vegetation surveys were made. For example, data on the water chemistry or levels of the water table often accompany date on plant species as well as the presence of local disturbances and of the surrounding landscape. Now we know well enough the ecological niches of mosses, including Sphagnum, characteristic of the peat lands. Similarly, a previous study has identified the ecological niches of Carex by combining different databases. However, no study has been published for the ecological niches of other vascular plants associated with peat lands. We propose to perform a meta-analysis using databases on peat land plant diversity which have been developed by several Quebec researchers.
Seed Grant 3 : Genetic structure in populations of two coexisting mouse species in Southern Quebec – Effect of isolation and habitat fragmentation
Virginie Millien (McGill University), François-Joseph Lapointe (Université de Montréal),
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One of the most important consequences of climatic change is the increase in temperature, particularly in temperate regions. This change can dramatically impact the habitat of native species, which might then generate new environmental selective pressures that result in rapid and adaptive phenotypic change. At the same time, adaptive change might be constrained (or perhaps even facilitated) by gene flow across the landscape or by genetic drift in small populations, affecting in turn the distribution range of native species. We propose to study these potential effects by examining morphological and genetic variation in rodent populations of the genus Peromyscus in the Monteregian sky islands over the last 50years. Our project will enhance our knowledge of diversity pattern in a small mammal species in Quebec, both at the phenotypic and genetic levels.
Seed Grant 4 : Study of phylogeographic patterns among the rare plants of the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence ecoregion
Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Daniel Schoen (McGill University), Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal),
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Conservation of biodiversity frequently requires consideration of unit below the species level called DUs. To be assessed, a population or a group of populations must meet certain criteria. These criteria imply that without a genetic study, unique genetic characteristics of a population are identified and conserved. Eco-geographical regions are also of great importance in assessing the status of species: a species may be abundant globally but rare within a given ecological region. Thus, lack of knowledge of eco-geographical zones can have a significant impact on conservation. We propose to study the genetic diversity of rare plants in the ecological region of the plain of St. Lawrence and of the Great Lakes (southern Quebec and Ontario). This ecological region is interesting as it may contain two historically distinct regions. These patterns are caused by the Appalachians that have served as a barrier to the migration following the last glaciations. If this pattern was widespread, it could lead to a redefinition of eco-geographical zones and could lead to some status changes for endangered species in these regions.
Seed Grant 5 : Multi-scalar governance of biodiversity
Louis Guay (Université Laval), Philippe Le Prestre (Université Laval), Jaye Ellis (McGill University), Pierre André (Université de Montréal),
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The effective management of biodiversity requires action at multiple scales. However, despite numerous calls for integrated and sustainable biodiversity planning, the multiplicity of levels of analysis and action as well as the nature and impacts of the interrelationships between these levels still present complex issues for the integrated governance of biodiversity. The object of this grant is a multidisciplinary research project aiming for the development of applied macro and micro theories that would allow, based on empirical evidence, to understand how micro level processes affect, even determine, structural changes, and inversely, how micro processes are built upon and constrained by structural components (with regard to were biodiversity policies, multiple levels of government and power are concerned). The implementation of biodiversity protection is none the less at the level of the states, federal and local agencies. In Quebec, land use and development plans are the principle tools for the management of occupied territories.
Seed Grant 6 : Distribution, abundance, and parasite specificity of protocalliphora flies
Jacques Brodeur (Université de Montréal), Jade Savage (Bishop’s University), Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal), Terry Whitworth (Washington State University), Simon Daoust (Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Université de Montréal),
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The flies of the Protocalliphora genus have a very particular life cycle: the larval are obligate parasites of birds feeding on their host’s blood. Several studies have shown that Protocalliphora larvae can reduce the fitness levels of their host bird, even killing them. However, we know very little about the ecology of these flies. Dr. Whitworth has in his disposal a collection of 300,000 specimens of all know species from sampling 8,500 nests of birds across North America and Europe. This collection has not been studied because it is not accessible. The objective of this grant is to digitize and integrate in Canadensys, Dr. Whitworth’s entomology collection, a significant portion of which will be integrated in the Ouellet-Robert collection at the University of Montreal.
Seed Grant 7 : Does competition constrain evolutionary rescue in a changing environment?
Fanie Pelletier (Université de Sherbrooke), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University), Claire de Mazancourt (McGill University), Benoit Guillemette (Universtié de Sherbrooke),
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In the wake of increasing global change, evolutionary rescue could play a key role for species persistence. The goal of this project is to explore the effect of competition on the potential for evolutionary rescue to occur. Our study builds upon a previous experimental evolution study that has shown that evolutionary rescue can occur if population size is sufficiently large and that the environmental changes are not too large in magnitude. Recent theoretical models, however, have suggested that evolutionary rescue might be constrained or even precluded in the presence of competitors in the environment. Using experimental evolution, our study will assess whether competition might limit the occurrence of evolutionary rescue. Results from this research are likely to be very important, as virtually all species in nature have to face competition. If it can be shown in the lab that competition limits the potential for evolutionary rescue to occur following environmental change then it opens the door to studies of this effect in the field.
Seed Grant 8 : Influence of diversity at the locus of the major histocompatibility complex on resistance to parasites and survival of tree swallows in agricultural areas
Dany Garant (Université de Sherbrooke), Sophie Calmé (Université de Sherbrooke),
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In Quebec, the transition from traditional cultures (more extensive) to intensive cultures has been particularly spectacular in the past fifty years and has potentially caused significant disruptions in term of animal populations. A group of countryside birds particularly at risk regarding agricultural intensification is that of aerial insectivore birds, primarily represented by swallows. In Canada, swallow species associated with agricultural landscapes have been subjected to an annual drop varying between 2.5% and 7.5% in the last 20 years. So far, most of studies having qualified the influence of agricultural intensification on these species only targeted the effects of agriculture on specific wealth or abundance of countryside birds. This results in a blatant lack of knowledge on mechanisms by which agriculture affects genetic diversity and its impact on the fitness of people and consequently, the structure and dynamics of populations. This project aims to characterize the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, exon 3, class 1 locus) for tree swallows evolving in agricultural habitats of intensive and extensive types in southern Quebec. This development will allow later to evaluate the influence of the number and type of MHC alleles on the survival of adult and young birds of tree swallow in those habitats.
Seed Grant 9 : Individualism vs. Holism in Non-Speciesist Ethics and Law
Greg Mikkelson (McGill University), Colin Chapman (McGill University),
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Within environmental ethics, much debate has focused on whether we owe direct moral concern to individual organisms only, or also to larger wholes as such, e.g., species, ecosystems, and/or relationships between organisms. Meanwhile, in environmental law exciting recent progress has occurred in establishing and/or extending the rights enjoyed by sentient animals, on one hand, and entire ecosystems, on the other. What ties these developments in ethics and law together is that they are all "non-speciesist": they go beyond human rights, to acknowledge the claims made on us by nonhuman and/or more-than-human natural entities. We seek to answer three questions concerning this topic: a) To what extent do utilitarianism (the best-developed form of moral individualism) and richness theory (the most promising form of moral holism) converge or diverge in their judgments about concrete choices between biodiversity conservation and so-called "development"? b) What conclusions can be drawn from the answer to Question #1 about the relative merits of the two theories, and of ethical individualism and holism more generally? And c) Which kind of legislation holds the most promise for protecting biodiversity: animal rights (as the German constitution now enshrines) or ecosystem rights (as the new Ecuadorian constitution upholds)?
Seed Grant 10 : Community-based biodiversity monitoring using GPS-equipped handheld devices
Murray Humphries (McGill University), Colin H. Scott (McGill University), Monica Mulrennan (Concordia University), Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal), Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal),
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Community-based observations on the land and water are an important component of traditional knowledge systems that have the potential to be integrated into formalized community-based biodiversity monitoring programs (CbBM). A promising, new approach in CbBM involves combining rugged GPS-equipped electronic devices with software designed to simplify field data collection, enabling rapid and accurate recording of observations by non technical observers of the environment. CyberTracker is one such software system, originally designed for non-literate animal trackers in South Africa. CyberTracker collects data through a series of customizable icons on a touch screen interface. This seed grant project seeks to identify opportunities and constraints associated with the use of GPS-equipped handheld devices in community-based biodiversity monitoring.
Seed Grant 11 : Towards a DNA Barcoded Flora for Quebec
Jonathan Davies (McGill University), Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Jeffery Saarela (University of Ottawa),
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The province of Quebec encompasses some 2,500 species of flowering plants, representing about half of the known diversity in Canada. Although efforts to document the distribution and diversity of the Quebec flora have been ongoing for nearly 400 years, we have, with few exceptions, only scant ecological information on many species, and no comprehensive, up-to-date resource on their taxonomy and distributions. At present, most available tools for species identification are scattered in the scientific literature in the form of technical, dichotomous keys usable in most cases only by trained individuals. DNA bar-coding is an emerging method of species and discovery that uses the short sequences of genomic DNA to rapidly distinguish species; critically, taxonomic experience is not required, and identifications can be made with any plant part (leaf fragment, root, pollen grain etc.) as opposed to mature, reproductive specimens that are often required in taxonomic keys. Here, we propose to begin the work necessary to create a comprehensive DNA barcode library of the Quebec flora. Eventually, when handheld technology is developed, a complete DNA barcode library will transform the bioliteracy of Quebecers and Canadians, allowing anybody to rapidly identify a specimen in nature.
Seed Grant 13 : The Giant Hogweed: study dynamics of a biological invasion as of its initiation
Claude Lavoie (Université Laval), Sylvie de Blois (McGill University), Jacques Brisson (Université de Montréal),
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The plant, giant hogweed, is very invasive and is a nuisance to public health (dermatitis). There is a strong interest from several agencies to learn more about this invader. The parallels between giant hogweed and common reed are many, especially regarding the routes of dissemination (roads) and control potential through competitive mechanisms. There is however a fundamental difference between the two invasions. If the common reed is present in Quebec for over a century, giant hogweed has been observed in nature in the province over the past twenty years. It is therefore possible that the invasion is still in its initial stage, a stage where we can act effectively to control, if not eliminate it. It is still necessary to have a realistic picture of the distribution and size of populations. The presence of giant hogweed was reported nearly 300 times, but it is likely that a large part of these statements are false, because it is easily confused with other plant species. We therefore propose to create a database on reported cases and check their existence on the ground during the summer of 2012.
Seed Grant 14 : Diversity of Quebec's pollinators and nectar plants: development of a field guide
Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), Lyne Lauzon (CRAAQ),
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There has been a growing public awareness with the loss of pollinators leading to their desire to take concrete action to contribute to their conservation. However, at the present time, no field guide adapted in a Quebec context and French language on pollinating insects and associated plants exists. The project aims at producing a field guide on Quebec’s pollinators and nectar plants diversity. The grant will be used to develop a preliminary table of contents of a book on plant and pollinator species and to write a grant application to be submitted to the CDAQ (Conseil pour le développement de l'agriculture du Québec) in order to achieve the complete work in collaboration with Mrs. Line Lauzon, project officer to publications at the CRAAQ (Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec).
Seed Grant 15 : Landscape genetics of Boreal zooplankton metacommunities
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Pedro Peres-Neto (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Patrick James (Université de Montréal),
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Aquatic ecosystems in boreal regions are anticipated to change dramatically as a result of climatic warming. Possible species reactions to climatic effects include shifts in geographical distributions, adaptation, or local extirpation if spatial environmental changes exceed ecological tolerances. We propose to apply a landscape genetics framework to infer relative dispersal ability and distribution of spatial genetic variation among co‐existing zooplankton species across boreal landscapes. This information will allow us to understand the nature of zooplankton metacommunity responses to environmental changes in northern lake ecosystems, which are anticipated to undergo major alterations as a result of climate change.
Seed Grant 16 : Medicinal biodiversity in Québec
Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal), Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal), Ashleigh Downing (Université de Montréal),
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Medicinal biodiversity is poorly known or neglected. Little is known about traditional medicine native plants surrounding Quebec or Canada. First Nations want to participate and collaborate with researchers who 'performed with them in an ethical manner on parallel topics (antidiabetic plants, impacts of climate change on medicinal plants, caribou migration route). In addition to the simple enumeration of medicinal plants in Québec or in a given environment, the project ventures into uncharted territory and placed on originality in calculating indices of medicinal biodiversity. These new indices affect 1) the different habitats, 2) the different strata, 3) groups Raunkiaer. The indices used for the conservation of medicinal plants, habitats rich in genetic resources. They will be available to First Nations who want to protect their territory and government policy makers.
Seed Grant 17 : Using genetic and classical paleolimnological approaches to assess the role of dispersal in structuring zooplankton communities in northern lakes recovering from stress
Irene Gregory-Eaves (McGill University), Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Beatrix Beisner (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)),
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A recent analysis examining zooplankton assemblages preserved in surface sediments (integrating ~5 yrs of deposition) from 50 boreal lakes, argues that environment trumps predation and spatial factors in structuring cladoceran communities?. Stimulating questions arise as a result of these contrasting results: i) are the differences between contemporary vs. surface sediment zooplankton studies because only a portion of the zooplankton community produces readily-identified subfossils in lake sediments (primarily cladocerans), and ii) is dispersal limitation in cladocerans a process that operates only over a relatively short time scale being thus obscured in the sediment record? Herein we propose to combine innovative genetic techniques with classical taxonomic subfossil analyses to quantify how zooplankton communities have responded to metal contamination and recovery over the past century and evaluate whether these techniques differ in their sensitivity to detect evidence for dispersal-limitation in sediment cores. Specifically, we will test the hypothesis that increases in species richness and genetic diversity during the recovery phase of lakes occurs more slowly for copepods than for cladocerans, based on an expectation that copepods are more dispersal-limited. The project will focus on lakes around Schefferville, Quebec, where historical mining activity has results in metal-enrichment in numerous lakes and where there is now resurgence in mining activity. For many northern lakes there are no long-term ecological data, so a clear understanding of the sensitivity of different sediment core analyses will be paramount for quantifying biological responses to environmental change.
Seed Grant 18 : Insect herbivory in fragmented forestlandscapes: Implications for ecosystem services
Christopher Buddle (McGill University), Elena Bennett (McGill University),
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Fragmented landscapes have reduced ecosystem function and biodiversity, which can have negative impacts on the ecosystem services (ES) they support. An important ecological process that has been observed to respond to forest fragmentation, and which can also influence the production of ecosystem services is herbivory, that is, the consumption of herbaceous material by insects. Here we will use herbivory in the deciduous forests of southern Quebec (i.e. the Montérégie) as a model process to build quantitative understanding of the relationship between forest fragmentation, ecosystem processes, and the provision of ecosystem services. Therefore, the objective of this project is to test how vertebrate, and invertebrate predators of a target herbivore species (the forest tent caterpillar [FTC]) are affected by changes in landscape structure, and whether this can explain spatial variation in patterns of herbivory across the landscape. This will be done with field experiments in which we manipulate the exposure of FTC larvae to predation in sugar maple dominated forest patches that vary in landscape structural characteristics at the patch scale such as size and connectivity.
Seed Grant 19 : Abundance and diversity of pollinators on green roofs
Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Nathalie Roullé (Auxiliaire de recherche, Chaire en paysage et environnement),
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Pollinators play a critical role in the functioning of different urban ecosystems through their influence on the reproduction of flowering plants. Green roofs are specific environments because they are exposed to sun and wind as well as extreme drought and high flow of water. Green roofs are part of the green infrastructure including large-scale implementation could reduce the impacts of urbanization and climate change in Quebec : It is therefore important to understand the factors that promote greater insect biodiversity on green roofs, including pollinators, to design future green roofs accordingly. The objective of our study will be to identify the characteristics of roofs that favor the presence of pollinators on roofs. This knowledge will provide essential information to guide development projects of green roofs.
Seed Grant 20 : Media representations of biodiversity
Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Ira Tanya Handa (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Sandra Breux (Université de Montréal),
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Born in 1985, the term biodiversity has grown from twenty-seven years and is a major environmental challenge. The frequent reference to this term, however generated diverse and multiple representations. Two main factors explain this abundance of various representations. First, despite its frequent use, the definition of this concept is discussed even uncertain, particularly because it is used by many disciplines and applies to multiple scales. As proof, various definitions and measures of biodiversity have and are being debated within the scientific community and the concept evolves. Second, the term biodiversity is frequently reported by the media. These references in the media also generate representations, sometimes cantilevered overhang definitions, results and theories. These media representations are indirectly feed-in number and sometimes their nature - the fuzzy terminology assigned to this notion and may contribute to a misunderstanding of the concept. This exploratory research aims to study the representations of biodiversity in the Québec media, first by establishing a general overview and history of the term and then analyzing in depth the meanings and skills associated with it and its evolution. Ultimately, such a project should encourage the development of tools to improve the understanding of this concept by the general public, policy makers and players involved in designing instruments or arrangements of conservation or recovery of biodiversity.
Seed Grant 21 : Reference portrait of the aquatic fauna diversity of Gaspésie National Park: a multidisciplinary approach
Pierre Blier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Nathalie Le François (Université du Québec à Rimouski), France Dufresne (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Ariane Savoie (UQAR), Sébastien Ross (MRNF), Valérie Moreau (Société Cascapédia inc.), Sophie Mercier (UQAR), Yves Lemay (UQAR), Mélinda Lalonde (MRNF), Claude Isabel (Parc national de la Gaspésie), Marc Gauthier (Société Cascapédia inc.),
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The diverse ecosystems of the Gaspésie National park are an excellent representation of the northern Quebec ecosystems. Currently, there is very little data on the diversity of the park’s aquatic fauna. The acquisition of this knowledge will allow adopting better strategies to maintain this diversity and the associated ecosystem services. At the invitation of the managers of the Gaspésie Park, the project aims to document the species diversity as well as the genetic and functional diversity of the park’s aquatic fauna. This will allow to connect the environmental characteristics of biodiversity and draw a reference point. The study of biodiversity is achieved by a cross-disciplinary approach along two axes: a taxonomic/genetic axis and an eco-physiology axis. This project is initiated from the perspective of long-term monitoring of freshwater ecosystems of this territory but also to better understand and detect changes in the aquatic ecosystems of northern Quebec caused by climate change and by increasing human pressures. The project has a dual nature as both the fish fauna and the diversity of aquatic invertebrates will be studied. An innovative approach that integrates species inventory, DNA bar-coding, eco-informatics and eco-physiology will be utilized. This seed grant will allow us to initiate the collection of data in the summer of 2012 as well as 1) to coordinate with activities already planned by the MRNF in lake York (a region bordering the Gaspésie Park); and 2) to integrate the study of this park’s biodiversity into the undergraduate program at UQAM (Diagnosis of lake Cascapédia).
Seed Grant 22 : Business and biodiversity: a study of disclosure practices in the energy sector
Olivier Boiral (Université Laval), Luc Bouthillier (Universite Laval),
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The information released in sustainable development reports of the Global reporting initiative (GRI) are both the most transparent and reliable for the study of this type of question. On one hand, GRI guidelines are increasingly considered as a reference in the development of sustainable development reports. Consequently, almost 80% of these reports produced by large corporations use GRI guidelines. One of the main objectives of the GRI is to reinforce the rigor and transparency of sustainable development plans among stakeholders. GRI reports can aid in the application of indicators proposed by the norm. A and A+ levels will be retained in the study and are the most stringent as they propose the application of all the key indicators of the GRI (including the sectoral supplements) and, in A+ reports, a verification by external auditors. The GRI is planning on developing multiple indicators for biodiversity. Hence, we can initially suppose that the GRI reports with an A or A+ level will provide relatively reliable information on biodiversity issues and corporate efforts in this area. In this case, the study would allow to shed light on the limitations related to private sector considerations regarding biodiversity.
Seed Grant 23 : Comparative population genetics of estuarine and freshwater copepods
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Gesche Winkler (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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We request QCBS funds ($5000) to support the discovery of polymorphic microsatellite loci in two estuarine and freshwater calanoid copepods for which these markers do not currently exist. The development of these molecular resources will enable further collaborations between Winkler and Derry in which they plan to explore how habitat differences between estuaries and lakes influence genetic diversity and gene flow in copepod populations. Despite the ecological and evolutionary significance of copepods across a wide diversity of aquatic environments, there exist few genomic resources for understanding the maintenance of their genetic diversity. The maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations is a fundamental question in evolution and ecology, especially in light of anthropogenic disturbance and widespread degradation of natural habitats. We will collaborate with Annie Archambault who has spearheaded bringing high through-put sequencing methods for microsatellite discovery in non-model organisms at QCBS. This project will be the first of its kind, and will therefore serve as proof of concept for an overall larger project in which we hope to attract at least 6 other researchers to conduct similar analyses for other organisms that include insects, mammals, birds, and amphibians.  A QCBS seed grant will enable us to kick-start a small collaborative project that will likely attract other QCBS researchers, which could lead to a QCBS working group/ FRQNT team grant for developing molecular resources in non-model organisms.
Seed Grant 24 : Next generation DNA sequencing technologies as a tool to resolve phylogeny of closely related plants to gain instights into the evolution of biodiversity
Selvadurai Dayanandan (Concordia University), Jonathan Davies (McGill University),
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Gaining insights into the evolution of biodiversity requires testing of hypotheses relevant to many scales of diversity ranging from plant microbe interactions through multi-species communities, which often requires robust phylogenetic trees of closely related taxa. Current progress in furthering our understanding of the evolution of biological diversity is severely hampered by the difficulties in resolving the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) of closely related species.  This limitation could be mainly attributable to technological challenges in assessing DNA sequence variability at more than few selected genes or genomic regions with sufficient variability. The proposed project aims to close this knowledge gap by using a novel approach that capitalizes on recent advances in genomics technology.  We will use next generation DNA sequencing based, restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing methodology to obtain DNA sequence data covering a much wider region of the genome from multiple individuals of several Populus species to demonstrate the feasibility of resolving the phylogenetic relationships as well as uncovering introgression and reticulate evolution among closely related species. By demonstrating a proof of concept, this project will provide us with an opportunity to develop an innovative research proposal to seek funding from external sources including the NSERC and FRQNT programs for the advancement of scientific knowledge and train researchers including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in cutting-edge technologies relevant to evolutionary research.
Seed Grant 25 : Re-adapting to biodiversity - Scientific Monitoring of Common Birds in Schools
François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Dominique Berteaux (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Pierre Legagneux (UQAR), Guillaume Larocque (CSBQ/QCBS), Quinn Fletcher (UQAR),
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We propose a scientific project on common bird species implicating four elementary schools in the region of Rimouski. This project is to initiate an approach on the reproduction of common birds by setting up a network of nests. On a scientific level, our program aims to establish an ecophysiological approach during a medium term on many common bird species by using a network of schools to contrast the reproduction and physiology of these species that reproduce in urban and rural areas. This project has a larger objective concerning the establishment of a continued network in Quebec and in France. On an educational level, we hope to raise awareness of the children (and their parents) to their roles within their community to favour biodiversity. In order to raise this awareness to the inhabitants and to act for the recovery of the biodiversity in both the city and the country, this project depends on the schools in Rimouski. This program will take place in four schools (two in the rural area, two in the urban area). These schools are affiliated with the movement of Établissements Verts Brundtland de la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (EVB-CSQ) which brings educational programs of the environment in more than 1000 schools across the province. The following of reproduction will be assured by the students of UQAR as well as by the children themselves. This program will profit from the corresponding website where the children will be able to upload their information. The locations of the nests will be mapped, which will allow an easier submission of data in a standardized manner. All the data will be made available to the public. We have gathered a multidisciplinary group of biologists and specialists in education and popularization. We have also identified parents in each school ready to promote this project. These parents all work at UQAR and they have at least on child attending a school within the EVB-CSQ.
Seed Grant 26 : Anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity, fish habitat, and health of Grand Lac St. François and other winter-drawdown lakes and reservoirs
Chris Solomon (McGill University), Christian Nozais (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Irene Gregory-Eaves (McGill University),
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Hydrologic alterations, such as the construction of dams and subsequent water level management, have had major impacts on aquatic ecosystems around the globe. Grand Lac St. François (GLSF) is a large and faunally-diverse lake in southern Québec. Normal dam operations on the outflow stream here lead to large (up to 6 m) and variable winter water level drawdown in GLSF. Smaller drawdowns occur in many other lakes in the region. In this project we will investigate the effects of these drawdowns on the abundance and biodiversity of invertberates and fishes in these lakes, and begin to explore potential implications for major recreational fishery species.
Seed Grant 27 : Parallel Adaptive Divergence across Multiple Spatial Scales
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Andrew Hendry (McGill University),
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Much research has explored ecological variation as a driver of adaptation, which can in turn increase biodiversity through speciation. Identifying the mechanisms and dynamics of this process is important for understanding both past and present patterns of biodiversity. Perhaps even more importantly, understanding how ecology shapes biodiversity in natural settings can allow us to make informed predictions of how biodiversity will respond when faced with human-driven changes in ecology. While many studies look at how two or more different environments promote ecological diversification in a single set of populations, such analyses represent a single replication, and the results may not be applicable to other populations. Parallel adaptive evolution provides a naturally replicated experiment with which we can test the generality of biodiversity patterns driven by ecological factors. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) species complex contains numerous ecotype pairs produced primarily via ecologically driven diversification. One such pair, lake-stream, has been found in disparate regions of the species range, from Vancouver Island to Ireland to continental Europe. Such an expansive distribution makes these pairs the ideal candidate for tests of parallel adaptive divergence. Tests of parallelism of Vancouver Island pairs have shown that some morphological traits and genetic markers are strongly predicted by environment type, indicating that ecology can predict patterns of biodiversity.         This project aims to expand this test of parallel adaptive diversification to encompass lake-stream pairs across continents.  Our goal will be to sample specimens from Quebec, Alaska, Ireland, and central Europe. Using established protocols, phenotypic differences in body shape, foraging traits, and diet will be quantified and tested for parallel adaptive divergence. To test for parallel genotypic divergence, restriction-site associated markers will be used to gain a wide measure of diversity across the genome. We can then test if pairs that show parallel phenotypic divergence also show parallel genotypic divergence.             The results of this study will contribute towards a greater understanding of the predictive nature of ecologically driven adaptive divergence in threespine stickleback. Such knowledge will provide valuable insight when species are confronted with anthropogenic changes to their environments, and will be faced with adaptation versus potential extinction.
Seed Grant 28 : Demonstration of the Use of Genotyping-by-sequencing Method for Studying Biodiversity
Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal),
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The "new generation" sequencing methods is rapidly gaining popularity in many aspects of biodiversity science. Traditional techniques, such as microsatellites in population genetics and the AFLP in quantitative genetics, are predicted to be replaced by reduced-representing sequencing very soon. These new methods are fast and relatively inexpensive, but they require a good understanding of bioinformatics, which itself needs a considerable effort in order to understand and analyse. This request aims to demonstrate the use of the genotyping-by-sequencing method for two important applications in biodiversity science: the diversity of model indicative plant populations and the creation of genetic maps of a non-model species with the goal of mapping quantitative trait loci (QTLs) related to ecological speciation.
Seed Grant 29 : Quantifying biodiversity across multiple disciplines
Colin Favret (Université de Montréal), Anouk Simard (Université Laval), Tony Ricciardi (McGill University), Patrick M.A. James (Université de Montréal), Luc Brouillet (Université de Montréal),
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All biodiversity measures are subject to trade-offs. A complete survey would cover everything from subterranean microbial communities to migratory animals continuously. Given limited resources, this is never possible and as a result surveys must be optimized given the resources available. A significant challenge in biodiversity science is the quantification of biodiversity. On the one hand, a lack of taxonomic expertise hampers inventories of the most diverse taxa. On the other hand, it is not obvious how or if remote sensing reflects on-the-ground reality. The project seeks to develop the protocols for sampling and recording and to establish the proof-of-concept that multiple, methodologically distinct measures of biological diversity are indeed comparable. During the summer 2014, we will compare and correlate invasive and remote methods for the quantification of biodiversity in a Laurentian habitat: 1) a traditional plant survey; 2) insect DNA barcode diversity; 3) microbial metagenomic diversity; 4) soundscape recordings; 5) satellite and gigapixel imagery. The first part of summer will be devoted to installing insect suction traps and soundscape recorders in a forest habitat 2m (understory) and 8m (canopy) above the ground in a forested habitat. During this time, we will ensure that the equipment functions as intended and evaluate the monitoring and equipment maintenance needs for the formal data-acquisition phase. Data capture will take place before and over the course of the summer-fall transition. We will compare biodiversity assessments for two time periods at both monitoring locations (2m and 8m): plant species lists at 10 m and 25 m radii from the trapping/recording location, DNA barcode species diversity of selected orders of flying insects, metagenome diversity of bacteria on insect legs as determined by 16S DNA diversity, acoustic recordings at 96 KHz, satellite imagery. These preliminary experiments will inform the establishment of a future sampling regime over broader spatial and temporal scales.
Seed Grant 30 : Citizen Science Project for monitoring the maternity of bats in Quebec: Quebec Bats
Anouk Simard (Université Laval), François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Jean-Philippe Lessard (Concordia University), Murray Humphries (McGill University),
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Ever since the arrival of white coat syndrome in North America in 2006, and in Quebec in 2010, a precipitous decline has been observed among the populations of cave bats. The impact as we predict it may involve a possible elimination of certain populations. Considering the magnitude of this threat against this group of mammals which was abundant just as they were ecologically important, it is essential to improve the understanding of the situation as well as the way in which to proceed. We propose to establish a website to build a monitoring network of the bat colonies. Such a site would allow to colligate the presence of the bat colonies in anthropogenic shelters and to count their emergence, when possible. The site will allow administrators and scientists to have access to a better understanding about the distribution and any modification concerning the abundance of bat colonies and in effect, follow a suitable approach. Certain research projects could be initiated from such a resource, notably on a level of dynamic bat populations, the composition of their diets of insects, and on their selection of certain environmental characteristics. Obtaining the QCBS seed grant will assure a better success of the project by assembling a number of partners and by increasing the resources to construct and promote the website, the sensibility of the public, as well as the development of certain initiatives of research. This grant will allow not only to favor the sensibility of the public toward bats, but it will also improve the development of comprehension for this group poorly understood in Quebec.
Seed Grant 31 : Landscape-level Assessment of Stream Ecosystem integrity in a multi-Industry world
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)),
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Plant litter decomposition is a keystone ecosystem process that links riparian vegetation, physico-chemical environment, and decomposer communities in streams. Land use is known to impact leaf decomposition in streams, but landscape-level comparative assessment of leaf litter decomposition exposed to different disturbance types is rare, especially in aquatic ecosystems. Local studies are not coordinated and differ in methods, confounding comparisons across land use type. The goal of the project-at-large is to uniquely relate community-level diversity and productivity of two major decomposition agents (microbes and invertebrates) to ecosystem function (leaf litter decomposition) in freshwater boreal streams using standardized methodology. This will be done as a leaf litter manipulation experiment in replicate streams that have been and are exposed to different types of anthropogenic land use: metal mining, agriculture, and pristine forest in the northern, boreal region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, QC. Essential funds from a QCBS seed grant ($5000) would cover the empirical costs of quantifying microbial diversity and community composition component of the project, as well as support a new and novel QCBS collaboration. Derry and Kembel, both at UQAM, have never collaborated in the past, and this seed project represents the beginning of a new and fruitful research partnership that uniquely integrates the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The northern, boreal focus on ecosystem function in stream ecosystems is likely to be of broad importance as northern Quebec becomes increasingly industrialized and faces impacts associated with climate change. This seed grant will support an essential component of a foundation project that will extend into further collaboration between Derry and Kembel, and with other QCBS.
Seed Grant 32 : The shape of the rhizosphere microbiome under plant stress
Mohamed Hijri (Université de Montréal), Marc St-Arnaud (Université de Montréal), Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)), Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)),
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The rhizosphere microbiome (i.e. also referred as the second genome of the plant) is a dynamic community of microorganisms, which have developed long-lasting intimate and specific interactions with plants roots. Recent advances in plant-microbe interactions signify their profound effects on the growth, nutrition, and health of plants. Much of our current knowledge regarding interactions and processes in the rhizosphere microbiome has emerged from studies on agricultural and horticultural systems. However, our understanding of such interactions when plants are growing under stressful conditions is still in its infancy. Such studies will help us to understand plant strategies for recruiting key microbial taxa, allowing them to better adapt to stress conditions and might also help to design new strategies for ecosystem rehabilitation (i.e. land reclamation). Taking this step further, this project aims to investigate the shape of the rhizosphere microbiome of native plants growing under highly stressed conditions. Knowledge of biodiversity of microbes on the rhizosphere under stressful conditions might facilitate their precise management, accelerating processes of land reclamation. Our proposal is not only important for soil-based studies, since new insights and methods arising from this proposal might be applied to other areas such as agriculture, conservation biology, human and animal microbiome.
Seed Grant 33 : Urbain biodiversity and biotic homogeneity
Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Luc Brouillet (Université de Montréal), Jacques Brisson (Université de Montréal), Christian Messier (UQAM),
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The percentage of the world’s population in urban areas now exceeds 50%, and this proportion will continue to grow. Nature in urban spaces, generally composed of rich biodiversity, improve the lifestyle of city-dwellers, thus becoming of growing importance. However, urban biodiversity is often severely affected by the omnipresence of non-indigenous species and the decline of specialist indigenous species. In this context, our team wishes to take on a new research project aimed at understanding the effects of urbanization on floristic diversity in urban areas while considering the heterogeneity of specific habitats within large ecosystems. In this project, we are particularly interested in untended spaces wherein the floristic species can grow spontaneously. We will therefore lean towards habitats suitable for the growth of herbaceous plants and spontaneous shrubs, while omitting small forests, parks and other accommodated areas which depend on a different dynamic of vegetal regeneration. This project will provide answers to several questions, such as: Does spontaneous vegetation in urban areas differ between various types of habitat? Is urban wildlife dominated by non-indigenous species and do these species induce a biotic homogeneity in different habitats? Does the intensity of urbanization influence this homogeneity?
Seed Grant 34 : Microplastic pollution in the St. Lawrence River
Tony Ricciardi (McGill University), Anouk Simard (Université Laval), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Alison Munson (Université Laval),
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Recently, microplastics (synthetic polymer particles less than 2 mm) have been found abundant in the surface waters of the Great Lakes. Although microplastic pollution has been identified in marine systems since the 1970s, there have been very few (and only recent) reports of such pollution in freshwater environments. In 2013, the Ricciardi lab discovered polyethylene microbeads in the sediments at five sites along a 300-km section of the St. Lawrence River. A high prevalence and abundance of microbeads in sediments may cause ecological impacts resulting from ingestion by benthivorous macroinvertebrates and fishes. To determine the extent to which these pollutants have entered benthic food webs, we will quantify the consumption of microbeads in the Eurasian round goby, one of the most common benthic fishes in the river. Densities of microbeads will be sampled (using a Ponar grab and 500m sieve) along transects at sites receiving effluent from industries and compared to non-effluent sites. We will capture round gobies at each site, measure the percent occurrence and percent volume of microbeads in their digestive tracts, and determine if these metrics are correlated with local densities in the sediments. Such information could provide justification for future ecotoxicological and food web studies involving this increasingly prevalent pollutant.