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.

Added by: Sébastien Renaut 2018-03-07


Our house is burning!

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.

Added by: Guillaume 2018-02-05


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.

Funding source: MAPAQ


Valérie Fournier, Amélie Gervais

Added by: Audrey Bourret 2018-01-16


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.

Funding source: NSERC, QCBS, FRQNT


Etienne Laliberté, Mark Vellend, Alexis Carteron

Added by: Sébastien Renaut 2017-09-29


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


Anne Bruneau, Claude Lavoie, Stéphanie Pellerin, Carole Sinou

Added by: Sébastien Renaut 2017-09-26


Northern citizens monitor local biodiversity

Through adapted online platform



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.

Funding source: QCBS, CEN


François Vézina, Pierre Legagneux

Added by: Guillaume 2017-07-19


Eastern chipmunks of the Sutton Mountains region

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.

Added by: Audrey Bourret 2017-06-20


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).


Andrew Gonzalez

2017-05-17


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)


Anne Bruneau, Simon Joly, Gonzalo Bilbao Gómez-Martino

Added by: Sébastien Renaut 2017-03-27