A citizen science platform for the digitization of specimens from the Louis-Marie Herbarium
The Louis-Marie Herbarium at Laval University is the largest university herbarium in Canada. With close to 800,000 specimens within its walls, the task of computerizing this collection is monumental. To date, about 37% of the specimens, mostly vascular plants, but also bryophytes and lichens, have been digitized.
The goal of digitizing the collection of the Louis-Marie Herbarium is to facilitate management and research in the collection, but especially to make the biodiversity data of this collection more accessible to researchers and the general public.
Thanks to the collaboration of the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science, the Herbarium has been able to set up a collaborative portal to computerize the collection. Participants use images of herbarium sheets deposited on the portal to decipher and transcribe essential information such as the name of the species, the place and date of harvesting, or the name of the person who harvested the specimen. This tag information, sometimes handwritten, sometimes typed, but generally complex and very different from each other, is usually best interpreted by individuals, even if digital recognition technologies exist. We hope that this new portal will increase the rate of digitization of the Louis-Marie Herbarium.
Biodiversity data from the Louis-Marie Herbarium are disseminated on the Herbarium site (herbier.ulaval.ca) and deposited on several biodiversity data aggregators such as Canadensys, GBIF, the Consortium of North American Lichen and Bryophyte Herbaria and iDigBio. Click here for more info.
Possibilities and limits of legal supervision of shore, coastline and floodplain protection in Quebec
Since its adoption in 1987, the Policy for the Protection of Shores, Coastlines and Floodplains (PPRLPI) has been updated several times, the last time in 2017, in order to resolve certain enforcement issues. As part of the modernization of the authorization system under the Environment Quality Act (EQA), the adoption of the Act respecting the conservation of wetlands and water (CWHMA) and the implementation of the new Quebec Water Strategy (QWS), a complete overhaul of the provisions of the PPRLPI must be carried out in the medium term in order to make the necessary amendments. These would concern both the management of floodplains and the protection of shorelines and coastlines, in continental, coastal and possibly wetland environments. A fundamental reflection on the redesign of this Policy must be initiated. The integration of new knowledge and the consideration of climate change also motivate this redesign, as do the findings on the problems of application and uniformity of the minimum normative framework by municipalities. Considering these needs, the Direction de l'agroenvironnement et du milieu hydrique (DAEMH) decided to call on the Centre de la science de la biodiversité du Québec (CSBQ) to conduct a critical study of the regulatory measures of the European Union and some member countries as well as their implementation.
Funding source: Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada, CSBQ, MELCC
- Understand the social opportunities and constraints for protecting the habitats of various threatened or vulnerable wildlife species within a variety of socio-economic and cultural contexts.
- Understand landowner perceptions, social responses and potential conflicts related to proposed conseravtion interventions of private wildlife habitat.
- Identify barriers to conservation resulting from land use patterns and social, economic and political institutions
- Define the collaboration, education and awareness approaches to be prioritized to carry out legal conservation interventions on private land.
- Evaluate and compare governance and social organization arrangements for the development and enhancement of natural resources on private land in relation to wildlife conservation issues. Click here for more info.
Funding source: Ministry of Education of forests, wildlife and parks, Quebec center for Biodiversity Science
The North American Dialogue on Biocultural Diversity
The Dialogue was a 3 day conference, forming part of a series of events organised by the UNESCO-SCBD Joint Programme of Work, which aimed to explore the meaning of values of the links between biological and cultural diversity at the regional level and the subsequent implications for solutions of global problems humanity is currently facing, focussing on indigenous peoples. In particular, the Dialogue aimed to promote exchange and co-creation of knowledge between different actors to contribute to better understanding of the interlinkages between biological and cultural dimensions of diversity and the applications to resource management and decision-making processes. It also aimed to raise awareness and recognition regarding the role of indigenous languages and of local and indigenous knowledge and management systems, which provide the foundations for a rich and flourishing biocultural diversity. Click here for more info.
Dr. Etienne Yergeau, professor at the INRS, has received a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to better understand the interactions between plants and micro-organisms found in the soil. "At their roots, plants exchange services with micro-organisms", explains the professor, " The composition of this community of fungi, bacteria and other microscopic creatures changes depending on external conditions, but we have very little understanding of the dynamics which control this. If we can decipher who does what and how, we could use these interactions to help plants stay healthy in difficult conditions". This research project is also financed by the ministry of Education and Teaching of Quebec.
Creating ecological consciousness to climate change
Photo credits - Sandra Volny
An Art-Science collaboration aiming to understand how the sounds of our environment influence us as humans and to explore the relationship between humans and the world around us, moving away from an anthropocentric view of ecosystemic interactions to a holistic one. Click here for more info.
This interactive visualisation of the public trees of Montreal can be used to easily identify trees on the streets of the city. The tree inventory, which currently contains more than 350,000 trees is performed by municipal employees and the data is made available by the city on their open data portal. Development of this tool was started at an open data hackathon, and was continued by Guillaume Larocque, QCBS research professional. Click here for more info.
Added by: Guillaume Larocque 2019-02-20
Economic valuation of ecological services for businesses in Quebec
Preliminary studies to improve our knowledge
Photo credits - Photo by daniel baylis on Unsplash
In 1992, Canada signed the Convention on Biological Diversity that was then endorsed the same year by the Quebec government. Article 7 of the Convention requires that signing parties identify and monitor components of biodiversity that are important for conservation and sustainable development. However, intensification of land development and climate change is impacting biodiversity in many ways. The Quebec government hopes to be proactive and to forecast effects of natural disasters and human-driven disturbances on biodiversity and to react accordingly by protecting habitats, or by managing populations in a more sustainable way. In light of this, the government has decided to ask the QCBS to improve knowledge on the economic value of ecosystem services for Quebec's business sector.
Funding source: Ministère de l'économie de la science et de l'innovation
The Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory is a collaboration between five Canadian researchers in biodiversity and remote sensing science. Its main objective will be to study and understand the changes in plant biodiversity at a Canada wide scale using the emerging spectranomics approach. CABO will use high precision spectranomics to measure the spectral signatures of Canadian plants at several spatial scale and coming from different ecosystems, while using standardized protocols. This way, CABO will build a large spectral database of Canadian plants and thus revolutionize the way biodiversity data are acquired in Canada and throughout the world. CABO will reinforce other international initiatives in spectranomics and will position Canada as the world leader in biodiversity science and conservation. The funding for CABO is NSERC’s fourth Discovery Frontiers award, valued at $4 million over 4 years.
Towards an automated, open and transparent tracking system
Actual ecological knowledge on ecosystems are scarce, particularly for northern ecosystems, and this lack of knowledge limits the anticipation of global change consequences. It is to remedy this alarming problem that the Québec Ecosystem Observatory is being set up. In concrete terms, this observatory will enhance the ecological data already available, building on already existing initiatives such as Canadensys, and harmonize the collecting of those to come. The Observatory intends to set up an open informatics structure composed of an integrated suite of tools for the synthesis and communication of the state of our ecosystems in Québec. This suite will allow, for example, a compilation of real-time data for the automated production of a biodiversity atlas of Québec or the automation of environmental impact assessment pre-projects. The Observatory is also mandated to contribute to the formation and developments of new expertise in biodiversity science. Québec Ecosystem Observatory currently federates actors of various circles (academic, governmental, industrial, non-governmental) and can count on the implication of 4 FRQNT strategic clusters (CSBQ, CEN, Québec-Ocean, GRIL) to achieve its goals.
Presented by the Foundation Cowboys Fringants, the new Demain la forêt Program, which will be expanded across Quebec, was officially launched this April in the presence of its three long-standing partners, le Jour de la Terre, the David Suzuki Foundation and La Tribu. This major program will have the main objectives of planting resilient forests, educating and mobilizing the general public, supporting research and identifying innovative practices in terms of reforestation, conferring the efforts of all stakeholders and to make these actions shine through the arts.
Shown in photo: Mme Suzanne Verreault, élue responsable de l'environnement, Ville de Québec M. Jérôme Dupras, Professeur UQO, Président de la Fondation Cowboys Fringants M. Karel Mayrand, directeur, Fondation David Suzuki M. Michel St-Germain, Viridis Environnement Mme Marie-Annick Lépine, membre des Cowboys Fringants M. Jean-François Pauzé, membre des Cowboys Fringants M. Martin Bureau, Artiste peintre M. Karl Tremblay, membre des Cowboys Fringants Mme Sophie Lavallée, Professeure Université Laval Mme Julie Lafortune, directrice exécutive, Jour de la Terre M. Renaud Lapierre, Viridis Environnement M. Régis Labaume, Maire, Ville de Québec Click here for more info.
On May 10th and 11th, the second QCBS R symposium was held at the Biological Station of the Laurentians. These two days were an opportunity for the 33 students to share their knowledge of biodiversity analysis in R, through 5 different workshops. This conference was a success and we are already looking forward to organizing next year! All workshop materials are available on the symposium wiki page. Click here for more info.
Indirect effects of hunting regulation on female brown bear behaviour
Incredible media attention worldwide
Photo credits - Ilpo Kojola
A new paper from Fanie Pelletier laboratory, published at the end of March in Nature Communication, has received an incredible media attention. Only a week after its release, it shows an Altmetric Attention Score of more than 1250 points, reaching the top 5% of scores obtained to date and the 99e percentile for papers of the same age. These works have received to date a media coverage more than 150 times worldwide, and this number is still increasing. The article, Hunting regulation favors slow life histories in a large carnivore, reports the works of the doctorate student Joanie Van de Walle, and shows the indirect effects of hunting on selection and demographic processes. These works were done on a brow bear population in Sweden, where the regulation protects females with cubs from hunting. Females can keep their young for 1.5 or 2.5 years, thus favoring the survival of females that keep their young for longer periods, and their young too. The loss of reproductive opportunity for females that keep their cubs for longer periods is compensated by a gain in survival, particularly when hunting pressure is high. Click here for more info.
Funding source: FRQNT, NSERC, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, Austrian Science Fund, Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management.
A long research tradition at the Montreal Botanical Garden
Photo credits - Sébastien Renaut
During the opening of the new multifunctional room of the Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale (IRBV), Professor Luc Brouillet presented the long history of this collaboration between the city of Montreal and the Université de Montréal. In 1920, Brother Marie-Victorin created the Institut Botanique of the Université de Montréal, rebranded IRBV during its move to the Montreal Botanical Garden in 1939. The institute currently hosts more than 200 researchers, students and support staff, including 11 members of the QCBS. Inaugurated in 2011, the Biodiversity Centre houses the major Quebec collections of plants, insects and fungi, in addition to developing innovative research and raising public awareness of biodiversity conservation.
Click here for more info.
Traditional media still blind to biodiversity loss?
Photo credits - Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
The loss of biodiversity (animals and plants species) will continue unabated with increasing risk of dramatic shifts in ecosystems functioning and human well-being. This environmental issue is of special concern and should therefore reach the public. We wanted to compare media coverage of biodiversity with climate change, another major environmental issue. Our study, jointly conducted by researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski, Laval University and Sherbrooke University in press in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution compared scientific literature and press articles addressing climate change and biodiversity between 1991 and 2016. Time series analyses revealed that media coverage of climate change was up to eight times higher compared to biodiversity. Such discrepancy could not be explained by different scientific productivity or research funding between the two issues. The study finally discussed several initiatives that scientists could undertake to better communicate major discoveries to the public and policy makers. A greater public awareness regarding this issue would help implementing new policies to mitigate the impacts of biodiversity loss. Click here for more info.
Habitat enhancements to support pollinators in apple production
Increasing biodiversity and winter survival of bumblebees for better yields
Photo credits - Amélie Gervais
Potential causes of the current native pollinator decline observed around the world include pesticide uses, lost of floral diversity and landscape simplification. In apple production, apple trees blossom soon in spring, too early for many native pollinator species, and orchards often represent undiversified floral landscapes, two characteristics limiting their attractiveness for pollinators. Actually, much of the pollination is done by the use of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). But this work could be done by native pollinators such as bumblebees Bombus spp., more efficient than honey bees, and already working early in spring, but generally rare in orchards because of the reduced floral diversity. This three-year-project, in collaboration with apple producers from Montérégie and Estrie, was settled last spring by Amélie Gervais, a PhD student co-supervised by Valérie Fournier and Marc Bélisle. This study will quantify the impacts of flower planting - such as windbreaks, riparian strips and flowerbeds - on the diversity of native bumblebees and on their winter survival. Ultimately, this project will evaluate the biological and economic impacts of habitat enhancements to support pollinators in apple production.
Belowground perspectives and spatiotemporal evolution of the distribution of maple ecosystems in Quebec
Photo credits - Alexis Carteron
Soil is a complex system comprised of a large number of belowground interactions between the living and non-living elements. Among these interactions, many plants and fungi have developed a close relationship that can be beneficial to both partners. The aim of this project is therefore to better understand the interactions between plants and their fungal partners in sugar maple ecosystems found in southern Quebec. Subsequently, a field experiment will allow us to highlight the effect of plants-fungi associations on organic matter decomposition. Finally, in the context of climate change, we will attempt to determine the extent to which the expected migration of trees such as maple from temperate to boreal forests will be impacted by microbes in boreal soils. As a whole, this project aims to improve our understanding of the role of underground interactions in the functioning of ecosystems.
The role of private land conservation in maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity
Photo credits - Sébastien Renaut
Protected areas such as national or provincial parks help to conserve ecosystems and their biodiversity. However, few studies have evaluated the effect of land conservation in the private sector in maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity. In recent years, the Réseau de Milieux Naturels Protégés (www.RMNnat.org) has developed a unique, yet still underexploited database, georeferencing most of the protected areas on private lands in Quebec. For its part, the Canadensys network has a large open database of species occurrence, and the Quebec Natural Heritage Data Center (CDPNQ) can provide data on endangered, vulnerable or potentially designated species. By coupling data on Quebec flora from Canadensys and the CDPNQ to data on protected areas from the RMN, we wish to test the effect of private land conservation on several components of biodiversity (eg, alpha and beta biodiversity) through spatial and statistical analyzes.
Funding source: QCBS, Réseau de milieux naturels protégés (RMN), Canadensys
Northern communities face many challenges associated with climate change. Animal species, their abundance and timing of emergence/arrival are also changing rapidly. The Northern Biodiversity Project is dedicated to documenting how climate change may impact the animal (and plant) communities of the tundra by inviting Northern citizens to monitor the presence of species they observe on an adapted and flexible online platform resulting from a partnership between the QCBS and the CEN. http://northernbiodiversity.ca Click here for more info.
A long-term study to better understand factors influencing the maintenance of phenotypic diversity
Photo credits - Charline Chouchoux
Located in the middle of Eastern Townships, the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) study site livens up each spring for more than a decade now: a team is working to collect essential data to better understand the importance of genetic and environmental factors on the maintenance of phenotypic variability. Chipmunks are individually marked with ear tags to follow them across time and to collect repeated morphological, physiological and behavioural measurements. Genetic analysis also allowed the determination of their reproductive success and the establishment of their pedigree, thus adding a genetic component to the observed phenotypic diversity. Finally, as chipmunks are sensible to the fluctuation of resources within their environment, the annual variation in the food availability, influenced by mast trees, is also quantified. This huge sampling effort has been rewarded by the quality of the research that it is producing.
Analysis of the connectivity needed to ensure the survival of the Western Chorus Frog.
Photo credits - Mathieu Ouelette
The purpose of this one year project is to improve the understanding of the threats identified in the Recovery Strategy for the Western Chorus Frog especially urban sprawl, agricultural intensification in relation to the need to maintain connectivity between the metapopulations in the Montérégie Region. This understanding is based upon analyzing connectivity within and between metapopulations, identifying areas of importance for maintaining connectivity.
Funding source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).
Adaptation of tropical legumes of the genus Erythrina to pollinators
Photo credits - ALAN SCHMIERER
In angiosperms, flowers exhibit an incredible phenotypic diversity. Their form varries tremendously from one species to another and often reflects the diversity of pollinators; plants tend to adapt in order to maximize the transfer of pollen. We studied the tropical genus Erythrina, that belongs to the legume family, as a model to better understand the evolution of floral form in response to the selection pressures of pollinators. This genus contains 131 species pollinated mainly by birds (hummingbirds and passerines) and bees. Pollination by bees and passerines, considered as the ancestral state, is associated with open flowers, while pollination by hummingbirds has likely evolved more recently. In this project, the shape of the flowers was characterized using geomorphometrics of herbarium specimens, and their evolution was inferred with a molecular phylogeny. Our results show that pollination by hummingbirds has emerged independently several times during evolution, and is accompanied by a series of similar adaptations, such as tubular flowers. This suggests that hummingbirds exert a strong selection pressure, and that the phenotype tends to converge towards a very specific floral form.
Funding source: NSERC, Mutua Madrileña Fund (Madrid, Spain)
Traditional Animal Foods of Indigenous Peoples of Northern North America
A 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. Click here for more info.
Biodiversity responses to hydroelectric reservoir management
Featured in Canal Savoir
Photo credits - Raphaelle Thomas
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. Click here for more info.
A state-of-the-art infrastructure for experiments on freshwater ecosystems
Photo credits - Andrew Gonzalez
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. Click here for more info.
Funding source: Canada Foundation for Innovation, Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology, NSERC and McGill University.
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.
Funding source: National Capital Commission, the David Suzuki Foundation, OURANOS and the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science
How 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.
Photo credits - Figure de la DUI (Inspirée de Breton et al., 2007)
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.
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.
Click here for more info.
Addressing the challenges of socio-ecological systems' multi-level governance
Photo credits - Conceptual diagram depicting inter-institutional pitfall framework presents the “inter-institutional pitfall framework”, which highlights four possible interactional gaps that could occur between formal and informal institutional regimes.
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.
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 Click here for more info.
Funding source: the MFFP, the QCBS and the University of Winnipeg
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. Click here for more info.
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.
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). Click here for more info.
Ecological determinants of potential spread of variant raccoon rabies
Photo credits - A. Martin
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. Click here for more info.
Design of an ecological network for Montreal's green belt
Photo credits - Matthew Mitchell
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. Click here for more info.
Funding source: OURANOS-NSEARC-Max Bell Foundation
Combined impact of habitat fragmentation and climate change on the emergence of Lyme disease in Quebec
Photo credits - Virginie Millien
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. Click here for more info.
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. Click here for more info.