Sugar maple and climate change

When the sugar maple climbs up mountains...


Photo credits - Morgane Urli
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.



Birds at home!

Citizen science project in the Rimouski region


Photo credits - Pierre Legagneux
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.

http://www.desnidschezvous.com Click here for more info.

Funding source: QCBS seed grant and collaborating organizations


Dominique Berteaux, François Vézina



Inuit traditional activities and climate change

How climate change is impacting Inuit life



Climate change is affecting Inuit communities and their territory is under rapid changes. Our project is focusing on Inuit perception using interviews with maps to uncover where the land has been modify during the last decade. We see a student (Laura Siegwart Collier) mapping changes in berry patches, fishing and hunting activities with an interpreter (Wilson Jararuse) and an Elder (Verona Ittulak). 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.

Funding source: FRQNT


Fanie Pelletier



A green network for biodiversity

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


Andrew Gonzalez, Elena Bennett, Martin Lechowicz



Emergence of lyme disease in Quebec

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.



Restoring contaminated soils

Bio and phytoremédiation


Photo credits - Mohamed Hijri
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.

Funding source: Génome Québec et Génome Canada


Mohamed Hijri, Simon Joly