Seed Grant 58 : The role of phenotypic plasticity and adaptation in defining the long persistence of marine ectotherm’s to increasingly warm and hypoxic conditions in tropical coastal habitats
Piero Calosi (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Pierre Blier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Noelle Lucey (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute ),
Amongst marine habitats, coastal environments undergo the most intense variation in environmental conditions, this being especially true in tropical areas, where waters are extremely warm and coastal hypoxic zones are expanding. However, these seemingly harsh environments host a great biodiversity of ectotherms, mostly invertebrates. In ectotherms’ thermal tolerance is dependent on the organisms' capacity to deliver oxygen efficiently to their cells, as defined by the Oxygen Capacity Limitation of Thermal Tolerance (OCLTT) hypothesis or alternatively by mitochondrial dysfunction (Mitochondrial Dysfunctions at Higher Temperatures hypothesis). However, tropical species have not been considered among the most vulnerable to global warming, as they will not experience the highest or fastest increase in temperature, and are thought to inherently possess the ability to face further temperature increases as they are already adapted to warm conditions. However, the biological implications of further temperature increases in the tropics may have unexpected consequences, based on adaptation limitation and the fact that warm waters hold less dissolved oxygen. Our aim is to investigate the influence of in situ oxygen saturation history of exposure and the acute exposure to elevated temperature on the physiology of tropical marine invertebrates. We aim to do so by measuring indivivuals’ resting and maximum metabolic rates, upper thermal limits (CTmax) and mitochondrial phenotypes and density in six key species selected across different phyla, and covering a range of functional and trophic levels. The project we propose will be conducted in Almirante Bay (Panama), a unique environment with a history of frequent and periodic hypoxic events, which hosts a diverse fauna of invertebrates in size, complexity, and function. This natural laboratory will enable to investigate the potential plastic or adaptive responses to in situ exposure to hypoxia and elevated temperature in multiple species, thus enabling us to acquire an ecosystem point of view. The proposed collaboration links Blier (Axis 1-2 Themes 1.3, 2.1, 2.2) and Calosi (Axis 2 Themes 2.1, 2.2), with the implication of QCBS HQPs Carignan and Vermandele. The QCBS Seed Grant (4970 $) will contribute to 30.84% of total expenses and would greatly help in establishing a durable partnership (see detailed budget).
Seed Grant 57 : Evaluation of a Next Generation Sequencing strategy using a plasmid enrichment approach for metazoan to retrieve mitochondrial genomes
Pierre Blier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Piero Calosi (Université du Québec à Rimouski), France Dufresne (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
Mitochondrial DNA has become a popular tool in biodiversity studies. The description of the mitochondrial genome allows the investigation of both evolutionary and adaptive links among species or population. Until recently, obtaining the complete sequence of these genomes was a challenge especially for non-model organisms. With the advance in next generation sequencing (NGS), mitochondrial genomes can now be easily obtained but it has some limitations. We propose to test a new cheaper and faster method to acquire the mitochondrial genome. Currently this technique has never been tested on invertebrates or on non-mammalian vertebrates. This is opening new exciting avenues of research.Three laboratories at the UQAR independently work on mitochondrial genomes for their research. We aim to unite our forces, through this collaboration, in order to develop this new technique and assess the organization of mitochondrial genomes for a variety of species. To do so, we propose (establishing a new collaboration only possible through the QSBC Seed Grant support – 5000 $, 58% total project cost) to obtain the entire mitochondrial genomes from several species. This will be done by sequencing 11 species (4 vertebrates and 7 invertebrate) using next generation sequencing technique on sample enriched in mitochondrial genome based on the new cost-effective method developed by Quispe-Tintaya et al. (2013). The intended work will lead (1) to a technical note in collaboration with Dr. Brian Boyle (IBIS, University Laval) on the application of the method developed for mammals by Quispe-Tintaya et al. (2013), (2) to improve the knowledge on the mitochondrial genome organization in metazoan,and (3) to improve of the existing phylogeny of Mollusca, Arthropoda and Chordata using mitochondrial genome.
Seed Grant 56 : Mitogenomics of polychaete worms of the Ophryotrocha genus: an emerging model for multigenerational experiments in marine invertebrates
Piero Calosi (Université du Québec à Rimouski), France Dufresne (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Pierre De Wit (Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Infrastructure, University of Gothenburg),
The rate and magnitude at which global change is occurring poses a serious threat to marine species persistence, ocean biodiversity and ecosystem functions. However, most studies to date have focused on a single species’ short-term phenotypic plastic responses, most often to single stressors and almost always on a single life stage. In order to gain a better understanding of the structure and dynamics of marine biodiversity in a changing world, it is imperative that we acquire a firm understanding of both plastic and rapid evolutionary responses to multiple stressors on multiple life stages as primary rescue mechanisms to prevent species extinction, whilst addressing fundamental paradigms in biodiversity, such as that of rarity. This requires suitable biological systems that are not available at the moment for marine invertebrates. We have recently identified the marine polychaete worm genus Ophryotrocha as a suitable group for the investigation of marine invertebrates’ responses over multiple generations under multiple global change drivers. Our results are very promising, and our recent breakthroughs (e.g. the development of an individual metabolomics-lipidomics approach, Vermandele and Calosi in prep.) are opening new exciting avenues of research. This said, our work is greatly limited by the absence of genomics-transcriptomics tools. In order to pursue the development of the genus Ophryotrocha as a model for investigating invertebrates’ evolutionary responses to marine global change, we propose to characterize the mitogenomes of common and rare species within the genus Ophryotrocha. This will be done by: (1) sequencing the entire mitochondrial genome of 3 common and 3 rare Ophryotrocha species using Illumina MiSeq Next generation Sequencing on mtDNA enriched samples produced with a new cost-effective technique, (2) obtaining estimates of nucleotide diversity from whole mitochondrial genomes, (3) improving the resolution of existing COI phylogenies. The intended work will result in a technical note and a manuscript on the mitogenomics of rare and common species of the genus Ophryotrocha (in addition to a revisited phylogeny), as well as the creation of a genetic database which will be the foundation of future projects aiming at understanding plasticity and rapid adaptation within the context of marine global change.
Seed Grant 55 : L’influence de la conservation volontaire: r Regroupement et évaluation initiale de plusieurs bases de données afin de comparer et la d’évaluer la protection de la biodiversité floristique dans le sud du Québec
Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal), Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal), Claude Lavoie (Université Laval), Jeffrey Cardille (McGill University), Delphine Favorel (Réseau de milieux naturels protégés),
La prémisse actuelle des actions de conservation est que la création d’un espace protégé par des mesures gouvernementales (p. ex., parc national/provincial/municipal) permet de conserver les écosystèmes ainsi que leur biodiversité. Cependant, il n’existe que très peu d’études évaluant le rôle de la conservation en milieu privé sur le maintien des écosystèmes et de la biodiversité. Au cours des dernières années, le Réseau de milieux naturels protégés (RMN) a développé une base de données unique, mais encore peu exploitée, géolocalisant la plupart des milieux protégés en terres privés au Québec. Le réseau Canadensys possède quant à lui une vaste base de données ouverte d'occurrence des espèces et enfin le Centre de Données sur le Patrimoine Naturel du Québec (CDPNQ) possède des données relatives aux espèces menacées, vulnérables ou susceptibles d’être ainsi désignées. Nous souhaitons d’abord extraire des BD les listes d’espèces présentes sur chacun des territoires protégés en utilisant les polygones associés à ces sites, puis nous souhaitons réaliser “l’arrimage” des BD, c’est-à-dire les rendre compatibles entre elles. Ainsi, en couplant les données sur la flore du Québec de Canadensys et du CDPNQ aux données provenant du RMN, dans l’éventuelle poursuite du projet, nous pourrons tester l’effet de la conservation en terre privées sur plusieurs composantes de la biodiversité (p. ex., biodiversité alpha et beta). La subvention de démarrage de projet permettra de développer une expertise pour la récolte et la mise en commun des données sur chacune des BD partenaires, afin de démontrer la valeur de telles BD dans un objectif de conservation et quantification de la biodiversité et aboutira à la rédaction d’un rapport à la fois méthodologique et scientifique. Ce projet permettra une synergie dans la récolte et le partage des données afin d’initier des collaborations productives entre les milieux communautaire, universitaire et muséal. De plus, le projet vise à faire connaître davantage la plateforme Canadensys aux propriétaires et gestionnaires de milieux naturels protégés et les inviter à publier leurs données d’inventaire sur GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information facility) via Canadensys pour les rendre disponibles en accès libre. Ultimement, il nous permettra de solliciter un financement à plus long terme afin de maintenir et bonifier ces bases de données.
Seed Grant 54 : Observatoire d'Oiseaux de Rimouski
Dominique Berteaux (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Joël Bêty (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Mikaël Jaffré (UQAR - Stagiaire Post-doctoral),
Dans un contexte d’érosion planétaire de la biodiversité, il est aujourd’hui nécessaire de disposer des données adéquates pour diagnostiquer l’état de santé du monde vivant. Par sa bonne connaissance et sa position dans le réseau trophique, le groupe des oiseaux joue un rôle de sentinelle dans les écosystèmes. Mais malgré la bonne connaissance de ce groupe taxonomique, les instances canadiennes ne sont pas capables d’attribuer une cote de tendance démographique à de nombreuses espèces en raison d’un manque de données ou du fait que certaines espèces sont insuffisamment couvertes par les techniques courantes de surveillance. Un examen des programmes de surveillance aviaire mené par Environnement Canada (Comité directeur de l’examen de la surveillance aviaire, 2012) a produit plusieurs recommandations pour chacun des principaux groupes d’espèces pour améliorer nos connaissances sur celles-ci. Pour les oiseaux terrestres par exemple, EC recommande d’élargir le programme actuel de surveillance des migrations en implantant et soutenant des stations au pays. Pour les oiseaux marins, il propose d’évaluer de nouvelles techniques pour de dénombrement et de revoir les ressources consacrées à la surveillance des canards marins pour plus d’efficacité (inventaires actuels par avion très dispendieux). Pour répondre à ces recommandations, il est nécessaire d’établir de nouveaux observatoires dans les régions qui sont peu couvertes afin d’obtenir des sites témoins de la démographie des espèces. La création d’un observatoire pour suivre la migration des oiseaux sur la rive sud de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent est aujourd’hui indispensable pour combler les lacunes existantes dans cette région du Québec. C’est dans ce contexte que l’idée de la création de l’Observatoire d’oiseaux de Rimouski a vu le jour en 2016, afin de coordonner 3 sites de suivi de la migration des oiseaux : le suivi de la migration visuelle des oiseaux marins (quai de Pointe-au-Père), le suivi de la migration visuelle des oiseaux de proie (Parc du Bic) et la station de baguage du Rocher-Blanc (Rimouski). En plus des intérêts de formation de biologistes et techniciens de la faune, et de sensibilisation du grand public (>3000 visiteurs par an à la station de baguage de Tadoussac), les données récoltées serviront sur le long-terme à mesurer les changements phénologiques ou démographiques qui opèrent chez ces espèces mal appréhendées par les outils existants.
Seed Grant 53 : EcoLab Laurentians - an experiment in stakeholder-engaged research on landscape connectivity
Timothée Poisot (Université de Montréal), Julie Talbot (Université de Montréal), Liliana Perez (Université de Montréal), Patrick M.A. James (Université de Montréal), Jochen Jaeger (Concordia University),
Biodiversity and ecosystem conservation stands as a nexus for the interests of multiple stakeholders, each with different and sometimes competing interests. In the Laurentians région of Québec, this is exemplified by the co-occurence of urban sprawl, outdoor recreation, forestry, farming, other resource extraction (e.g., hunting and fishing), and First Nation groups. Although the northern Laurentians are one of the last remaining exemplars of intact temperate forests, the southern part of the region is highly fragmented. Because of all these challenges, conservation approaches that aim to maximize biodiversity are bound to fail. We are applying for a QCBS seed grant to start a long-term project aiming to understand, manage, and ultimately decrease damage to the landscape in the Laurentians. This project will also be used as a large scale laboratory to experiment stakeholder-engaged research on land- and limno- scape connectivity and the conservation of nature and ecosystem service provisioning. Specifically, we will co-design strategies to accommodate the needs of stakeholders in a way that maintains the core ecoservices, and restores landscape connectivity.
Seed Grant 52 : Developing a rapid energetics assay for biodiversity monitoring
Kyle Elliott (McGill University), François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Murray Humphries (McGill University), Oliver Love (University of Windsor), Pierre Legagneux (UQAR),
Energetics is an important component of functional biodiversity, and our project provides a simple technique for measuring basal metabolic rate in the wild. We propose to couple the measure of tissue quantity (lean mass, measured via quantitative magnetic resonance) with tissue intensity (measured via thyroid hormone levels) to measure basal metabolic rate within minutes in wild animals. We will validate our method across 9 bird and mammal species that occur across the North of Canada and Quebec. The central application of our technique would be to quantify functional biodiversity across space and time and to use BMR as a potent variable in conservation physiology, including for species of socioeconomic value. The funds would be used to pay for thyroid hormone kits and for the salary of an assistant to run the assays. If successful, the Grant would then be integrated and expanded into a Master's thesis, and would eventually become a basic technique employed in many other theses. Our Seed Grant will benefit researchers in Quebec by training HQP and developing a simple, rapid energetics assay that can be used to assay the health of wild animals.
Seed Grant 51 : Epigenetic Adaptation to Temperature Change
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Daniel Schoen (McGill University),
Human-induced global change will have a major impact on Québec's biodiversity. Shifts in temperature regimes have already greatly affected both terrestrial and aquatic species, in turn damaging ecosystems and the services they provide. Despite great advancements in sequencing technologies, characterizing the molecular underpinnings of adaptation to temperature change remains a major challenge. In addition, the abundant literature examining the partitioning of phenotypic variance into genetic and environmental variation shows increasing evidence that the heritability of many phenotypic traits cannot be explained by common genetic variants. In particular, mechanisms such as epigenetics can have a strong impact on the regulation of phenotypic variance. Epigenetic effects are defined as molecular processes that modify gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. Such responses are often regulated by the environment. The role of epigenetic variation in adaptation to environmental change remains largely unknown and the effect size and heritability of epigenetic mechanisms is yet to be described. This gap in our knowledge makes it difficult to build testable predictions about the future of Québec's biodiversity. In this study, we propose to work with two native Québec species that are found along a large temperature gradient: the threespine stickleback fish and the woodland strawberry. We will sample populations located at the extremes of a 480km latitudinal gradient and experiencing different temperatures. We will test their temperature tolerance and build Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS) libraries in order to detect patterns of methylation that are linked to temperature tolerance. The results of this study will contribute towards a better understanding of the molecular components of adaptation to environmental change, and temperature change in particular. Such knowledge will provide valuable insight for the maintenance and protection of Québec's biodiversity.
Seed Grant 50 : Linking sugar maple root microbiome structure with seedling establishment across a species range
Tonia de Bellis (Dawson College), Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal), Dominique Gravel (Université de Sherbrooke),
Plant-associated microbial communities (plant microbiomes) are known to play a vital role in regulating plant health and productivity and ecosystem dynamics. However, the factors governing plant root microbiome diversity and the importance of root-associated microbes for plant growth and establishment across species ranges are poorly understood. Considerable uncertainty also exists surrounding the influence of climate change on species range limits, particularly when considering that abiotic conditions and biotic interactions vary both within and beyond species ranges. The mechanism of modified plant-microbe interactions across range boundaries, similar to the Janzen-Connell effect in tropical forests, could be an explanation for the incongruence between known dispersal kernels of trees and past migration rates following deglaciation. Since plant-associated microbial communities have the potential to respond more rapidly to environmental changes than their long-lived hosts, it is critical to understand the drivers of microbial community dynamics and most of all the role of microbial communities in tree germination and establishment across tree range boundaries. The goal of this project is to address these knowledge gaps by characterizing the structure and importance of microbial communities present on tree roots for seedling growth and establishment using a key tree species, Sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.). We will use high-throughput DNA sequencing to quantify the bacterial and fungal communities associated with sugar maple roots collected from a continental-scale reciprocal transplant experiment of different sugar maple genotypes planted at sites within and beyond the current sugar maple range limit. We will quantify variation in the structure and diversity of bacterial and fungal communities on sugar maple roots across the species' range boundary taking into account genotype and site effects. We will link sugar maple root microbiome structure with the growth and establishment of seedlings at different sites in order to identify microbial taxa associated with potential tree responses to global change. This project will initiate a novel collaboration between three QCBS researchers and students in their labs, and provide critical information on the importance of the sugar maple microbiome for potential responses of this iconic tree species to climate change.
Seed Grant 49 : Comprendre les interactions plantes-sols favorisant la résilience de l'écotone tempéré-boréal aux changements climatiques
Etienne Laliberté (Université de Montréal), Mark Vellend (Université de Sherbrooke),
Le climat est le facteur principal déterminant la distribution des domaines forestiers au Québec. Les modèles de projection écologique prédisent que les changements climatiques (CC) futurs permettront l'expansion des domaines forestiers méridionaux vers le nord, avec des conséquences importantes pour la biodiversité. Or, il est maintenant reconnu que l'expansion nordique des espèces et écosystèmes méridionaux opère à une vitesse beaucoup plus lente que celle prévue par les modèles basés uniquement sur les niches climatiques. Ces observations suggèrent l'importance de facteurs non-climatiques favorisant la résilience des écosystèmes boréaux à l'envahissement d'espèces méridionales, mais ces facteurs et leurs effets demeurent mal connus. Des travaux récents suggèrent que les sols boréaux pourraient être un élément-clé expliquant la résistance de la forêt boréale à la migration des espèces végétales méridionales tel que l'érable à sucre, mais nous ne savons pas si cela reflète les propriétés abiotiques ou biotiques des sols boréaux. Par exemple, certaines caractéristiques des sols boréaux pourraient nuire à l'établissement de l'érable (e.g., mycorhization inadéquate, faible fertilité), alors que d'autres pourraient être bénéfiques (e.g., diminution des pathogènes spécifiques). Notre projet permettra de déterminer les mécanismes abiotiques et biotiques régissant les rétroactions entre les plantes résidentes et les sols et leurs effets nets sur l'établissement des espèces méridionales en forêt boréale. Cela permettra de mieux prédire la vitesse d'expansion nordique de la forêt tempérée face aux CC futurs. Nous proposons d'utiliser le gradient d'élévation du Mont Mégantic comme système d'étude pour ce projet. Ce gradient d'élévation est idéal car il est associé à une diminution de la température moyenne donnant lieu, en quelques centaines de mètres d'élévation seulement, à la transition de forêt tempérée la forêt boréale. Nous testerons expérimentalement l'effet de la composition microbienne et des propriétés physico-chimiques des sols provenant des différentes forêts sur la survie et la croissance d'espèces d'arbres des forêts tempérées.
Seed Grant 48 : Flora of the 21st century: towards adaptation strategies for climate change
Sylvie de Blois (McGill University), Mark Vellend (Université de Sherbrooke),
Climate warming is predicted to trigger a massive redistribution of plant species' climatic niches, especially at higher latitudes. Understanding how plants will actually respond to climate change is important as plants structure habitats, provide resources to other species (including humans), and regulate biogeochemical flows, a critical aspect of climate change mitigation strategies. We aim to provide knowledge and tools to help predict the flora of the 21st century and assess the benefits and constraints associated with different adaptation strategies, such as assisted migration, for plant species. There is much uncertainty about the ability of some species to keep up with the rapid rate of warming expected in this century, but there is also evidence in the pollen record of local vegetation response times < 200 years during late glacial climate change, with refuges possibly playing a role. As well, many species may not be at equilibrium with climate. Their failure to establish populations northward over the last few millennia could have as much to do with the availability of suitable habitats and/or of dispersal and establishment traits than with climatic constraints per se. Most of all, humans have modified landscape structure and disturbance regimes at a massive scale, possibly overriding climatic effect on species ranges. Paradoxically, while anthropogenic landscapes may be seen as imposing barriers to species migration, humans are also one of the most effective dispersal agents of plant species. Our ability to devise, for the flora of the 21st century, adaptation practices relevant for biodiversity conservation and for sectors of activities like forestry or horticulture depends on a good understanding of the determinants of range boundaries. While there are, in particular, important risks related to biological invasions from species introductions, there is also the need to recognize that different sectors of activity are already, or could be, involved with some form of climate change adaptation via assisted migration. Guidelines for these activities are therefore needed and must rest on a rigorous assessment of potential responses of plant species now and in a warmer future.
Seed Grant 47 : Écotone tourbière-forêt : diversité végétale et fonctions écosystémiques
Julie Talbot (Université de Montréal), Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal),
Les tourbières sont des écosystèmes qui accumulent de la matière organique en raison d'un déséquilibre entre la production et la décomposition de la litière. L'écotone formant la frontière entre les tourbières et les milieux généralement forestiers les entourant souvent désignée par le terme « lagg ». Ces écotones ont fait l’objet de peu de recherches comparativement aux tourbières, particulièrement en ce qui a trait à leur fonctionnement biogéochimique, mais représentent souvent des points chauds de biodiversité. Nous proposons ainsi de réaliser une étude exploratoire sur les liens existant entre la diversité végétale et les fonctions biogéochimiques des écotones tourbière-forêt pour deux tourbières du sud de l’Ontario présentant des degrés variés de perturbation. Cette étude préliminaire permettra de tester l’hypothèse selon laquelle le niveau de perturbation des écotones forêt-tourbière se reflète à la fois dans leur diversité végétale mais aussi dans leur biogéochimie. Ainsi, à des inventaires végétaux réalisés dans quatre zones caractérisées par différents niveaux de perturbation, s’ajouteront des mesures de l’épaisseur et du contenu en carbone du sol organique, de la profondeur de la nappe phréatique, du pH, et de l’azote total, ammonium, nitrates et phosphore total de la portion supérieure du sol. Si notre hypothèse s’avère vérifiée, cette étude permettra de planifier une étude à plus large échelle visant un plus grand nombre de tourbière avec une plus large gamme de variété en ce qui a trait au niveau de perturbation de leur écotone tourbière-forêt.
Seed Grant 46 : Green infrastructures: developing a multi-scaled strategy based on the complexity and resilience of urban areas
Jérôme Dupras (Université du Québec en Outaouais), Martin Lechowicz (McGill University), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal),
Global changes (GC) are increasingly jeopardizing green infrastructures of our cities, particularly the associated plants and trees. Indeed, these have been the most affected by the increase of environmental stress and exotic insects and diseases. These trees supply directly and indirectly, by the functioning of the urban terrestrial ecosystem that ensues that a number of ecological services that are indispensable to our well-being. These ecological services risk being considerably reduced when facing the threats caused by the GC. The hypothesis underlying this project is that the resistance and resilience of urban and suburban ecosystems and consequently the ecological services that they supply can be increased by favoring a bigger structural diversity of ecosystems, a bigger functional diversity of trees and of plants associated and a greater connectivity to green spaces in order to react to GC and global predictions for Southern Quebec in the next few years. Our urban and suburban ecosystems and the services that they supply strongly depend on the links between them and the level of the tree, the wooded area and the landscape, and the efforts in conservation and reforestation should aim to consolidate or create links between these three scales. The members of our team are currently working on different levels that incorporate each other perfectly, from the tree and its next door neighbors to the plants associated to the larger metropolitan area of Montreal, aiming the creation of a green infrastructure more resilient to the challenges of GC and that supplies more services. This articulatory work between the different scales represents the heart of our preposition and its innovative quality.
Seed Grant 45 : Inter-institutional pitfalls of environmental governance
Gordon Hickey (McGill University), Ismael Vaccaro (McGill University), Murray Humphries (McGill University),
Despite recognition in existing literature of the importance of collaboration among formal and informal institutions, and documentation of some of the challenges that exist, there is no coherent framework to support identification and analysis of inter-institutional pitfalls, and consequently effective strategies for supporting their resolution are not well developed. We aim to undertake a collaborative study to understand where the gaps or institutional voids exist in the process of managing different natural resources within human-transformed landscapes, and to present a framework for their identification and analysis. To operationalize this framework we will draw on ten natural resource management case studies from a range of geographical locations, governance scales, and social-ecological systems, including: wetlands of Bangladesh; forest resources of Bangladesh; knowledge network and institutions in semi-arid regions of Kenya; smallholder farm land resources of semi-arid regions of Kenya; farmer cooperatives of Niayes region of Senegal; forested reserves of India; river system of India; coastal fisheries of South Korea; small island food systems of St. Kitts; knowledge flow and social networks of smallholder farmers in St. Lucia; and indigenous trapper communities of North western Canada.
Seed Grant 44 : Reviving the dead: digitization of museum specimens for the advancement of biodiversity science in a changing world
Jean-Philippe Lessard (Concordia University), Terry Wheeler (McGill University), Jade Savage (Bishop’s University), Colin Favret (Université de Montréal),
Museum specimens represent relatively straightforward diversity records: species occurrences in space and time. Such specimen data have been used to great effect to document species declines and extirpations, range expansions, and broader assessments of biodiversity. However, despite their unrivaled diversity and near ubiquity, insects are underrepresented in biodiversity studies. We here seek seed funding to establish the feasibility of and justify an ambitious initiative to digitize all of Quebec's insect specimens held in the province's institutional collections. New technologies will soon be available that will make possible biodiversity data capture with unprecedented efficiency. The eventual goal of having a massive, comprehensive database of verifiable specimen records will greatly enhance insect biodiversity science, and establish Quebec as a global leader in the domain. The MDEIE is the target funding body for the larger project. In order to prepare a convincing argument for a massive specimen digitization initiative, we first need to document the parameters. What are Quebec's institutional collections? What are their taxonomic and geographic strengths? How many specimens originating from the Quebec territory do they house? Secondly, we must demonstrate the desirability and feasibility of assembling the data from multiple institutions: how much more powerful are the combined data than the data from any single collection? In order to address these two immediate objectives, we request funding 1) to assess the size and scope of Quebec's institutional insect collections and 2) to execute a pilot project, digitizing Quebec's dragonfly and damselfly specimens. The resulting data will be served at Canadensys, will provide the foundation to seek more significant funding, and will be used as preliminary data to launch a research program on odonate diversity and distributions in Lessard's lab (NSERC funded project).
Seed Grant 43 : Population-area relationships: The extent of vertebrate population diversity and projected future loss in Canada, and a latitudinal assessment in the Americas
Dylan Fraser (Concordia University), Dominique Gravel (Université de Sherbrooke),
Biodiversity science typically emphasizes species diversity, but another important component of biodiversity is population diversity, with several studies showing the significance of conserving population diversity and richness for species persistence and ecosystem functioning. For almost 20 years, however, no large quantitative surveys have assessed the extent of population diversity in relation to area, nor have population-area relationships been compared to species-area relationships, and nor have there been projections of future population loss in relation to human activities. The long-term goal of this project is the generation of a novel, extensive database on population diversity in the Americas and the use of this database to forecast changes in biodiversity patterns as ecosystems also change. Our project will bring together researchers from two universities (Concordia and UQAR) through the co-supervision of one PhD student and the shared supervision of a biology undergraduate summer student who will work on assimilating the population diversity database across North and South America. Ultimately, we expect this project to develop not only into several significant research publications, but to help facilitate the development of more refined biodiversity assessments for governmental agencies and conservation organizations.
Seed Grant 42 : Quantifying the after-life effect: are green leaf microbial communities driving leaf litter decomposition in tropical forests?
Ira Tanya Handa (Université du Québec à Montréal), Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal),
Recent work has shown that microorganisms living on green tree leaves were correlated with a suite of host plant traits which may act as filters for determining microbial community structure on leaves. In the case of fungi, strong similarity was noted between taxa and community structure occurring on green leaves and those living on leaf litter in nearby forests. While community assembly is understood to be a result of both local niche-based filters and stochastic processes, the relative importance of each component in determining community structure is frequently unknown. Additionally, the link between response and effect traits operating at different trophic levels on ecosystem functions remains largely unexplored. This pilot study proposes a new QCBS collaboration uniting molecular and bioinformatics expertise on leaf-associated microorganisms in tropical trees (Kembel) with field-based functional ecology and forest decomposition expertise (Handa) to address multiple QCBS research priorities that include 1) describing biodiversity (fungal communities living on green leaves and leaf litter of tropical trees), 2) linking biodiversity to ecosystems (by measuring decomposition of leaf litter) and 3) eco-informatics (essential to processing the sequence data). Specifically, we request funds to enable a co-supervised graduate student, to use high-throughput sequencing methods to assess microorganismal community structure on green leaves and leaf litter to test whether decomposer fungal community structure is largely a consequence of green leaf community composition, and whether its structure is ultimately a driver of decomposition. The proposed field component would be carried out at the Sardinilla biodiversity experiment in central Panama, one of the first tree biodiversity experiments worldwide. Lab work would be carried out at the Université du Québec à Montréal. We anticipate that this pilot study will contribute to a peer-reviewed publication and allow us to develop a solid baseline dataset for a future team research grant exploring this proposed response-effect trait framework?
Seed Grant 41 : Study of the variation of genetics and epigenetics in order to better understand and protect biodiversity
Sophie Breton (Université de Montréal), Bernard Angers (Université de Montréal),
The natural ecosystems are resources that are greatly jeopardised economically and ecologically by anthropogenic disturbance and climate change. One of the challenges that biologists are faced with is documented and predicting the impacts of these disturbances on the geographic distribution of species and/or their capacity to acclimate (short-term reaction to the environment) and adapt (long-term reaction to environment). For example, when acting directly on the survival of the organisms or by drastically modifying the sex-ratio, these disturbances can put certain populations at peril (ex. Grayson et al. 2014). The sessile species are a group particularly at risk of anthropogenic disturbances and global warming. Recently, the epigenetic regulation has been identified as a key mechanism in which organisms can rapidly respond to an environmental change without having to undergo genetic changes. Also, a study on the epigenetic variation may allow the testing of the importance of this phenomenon in the capacity that the organisms adjust their phenotype to the environmental variations. We propose to include the study of epigenetic diversity in the one on genetic diversity in order to better understand and to protect biodiversity. Specifically, the research project proposal allows us to obtain preliminary data that demonstrates the practicability of a subvention preposition that aims to better understand the potential temperature effects and the anthropic disturbances on the genetic and epigenetic biodiversity, the sex-ratio of the sessile species populations of which the determination of sex is sensitive to certain environmental factors. Indeed, these species are more and more at risk of local extinction because of demographic problems provoked by an unequal sex-ratio because of global warming and growing anthropic disturbances and a view on these aspects would bring complementary elements to reflect of the functioning of populations. This type of research will not only allow major advances in the comprehension of mechanisms allowing species to acclimatize to the climatic variations and anthropic disturbances but also to eventually predict the impact of global change on populations and ecosystems.
Seed Grant 40 : Human dimensions research in biodiversity science and management
Monica Mulrennan (Concordia University), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Sophie Calmé (Université de Sherbrooke),
The proposed project is intended to strengthen collaboration among researchers in Axis 3 and contribute to the emergent field of human dimensions of biodiversity science and management. Our objective is to assess the nature and extent of research in this field as reflected in the academic literature since the early 1990s when the human dimensions framework (HDF) was first endorsed. We also seek to solidify linkages between the QCBS, Axis 3 and Future Earth, as the new hub for the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. This is also very timely given that a regional Future Earth office will be based at Concordia University and will involve QCBS members.
Seed Grant 39 : Effects of anthropogenic browning on arthropod biodiversity and ecosystem function of lake food webs
Chris Solomon (McGill University), Terry Wheeler (McGill University), Christian Nozais (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Jean-Philippe Lessard (Concordia University), Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal),
Anthropogenic environmental change is altering inputs of terrestrial organic matter to aquatic ecosystems, giving lakes and other inland waters an increasingly tea-stained color in a process known as "browning". Browning has large physical, chemical, and biological impacts on lakes and on the important ecosystem services that they provide, such as economically and culturally valuable recreational fisheries. Recent research suggests that zoobenthos (aquatic arthropods that live on the bottom of the lake) are the central player linking browning to these important changes in ecosystem function, but has not explored the role of zoobenthos biodiversity and assemblage structure. In this Seed Grant project our specific short-term goal is to test two hypotheses: 1) That lake browning will reduce zoobenthos biodiversity because the resulting changes in water temperature and oxygenation will impose strong environmental filtering, and 2) That the zoobenthos assemblages that persist in brown lakes will be dominated by species that are tolerant of hypoxia but are consequently slow-growing. To test these hypotheses, we will use molecular techniques and microscopy to describe changes in zoobenthos assemblage structure during a recently-completed whole-lake browning experiment. In the medium term, our goal is to build a research team that can successfully compete for external funding to investigate in greater detail the linkages between zoobenthos biodiversity and lake ecosystem function in the context of anthropogenic browning.
Seed Grant 38 : Adaptive phenotypic divergence in brook trout: implications for eco-evolutionary feedbacks
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Dylan Fraser (Concordia University),
The nature and extent of reciprocal dynamics between evolution and ecology has emerged as an important synthesis for explaining patterns of biodiversity in nature. Several recent key studies have tested how adaptive divergence between predator populations or species can influence ecosystem-processes (Harmon et al. 2009; Bassar et al. 2010), but more generally, the consequences of evolutionary diversification for ecosystems are largely unknown, especially for species of socio-economic importance. This seed grant will quantify heritable genetic diversity in brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) that is linked to an ecosystem-effect trait (excretion rate) in the lab. The proposed seed grant project will fund the first step in addressing the understudied evolution-to-ecology link in eco-evolutionary dynamics in the context of salmonids in Canadian aquatic ecosystems. This QCBS seed project will support a novel collaboration that will bridge fisheries ecology (D. Fraser, Concordia) and aquatic community and ecosystem ecology (A. Derry, UQAM) within a complimentary framework that considers evolution as an important driver of biodiversity (both D. Fraser and A. Derry). We will bring together researchers and utilise facilities from two universities (Concordia and UQAM), as well as share a co-advised biology undergraduate summer student (Stéphanie Guernan, UQAM) who will work from both Concordia and UQAM to complete the project.
Seed Grant 37 : The nature of sound: the links between music, culture and biodiversity in the Sámi people in Laponie
Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal),
The people of Sámi live in the territory named Sápmi (of which a part is also known under the name “Laponie”) and covers the North of four countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. The Sámis, also known as the “people of eight seasons” live to the rhythm of reindeer breeding – calving, marking, counting, castration and slaughtering- that each have their own seasons. For the Sámis, music and environment are closely related, they are constructed together; one cannot function without the other. Additionally, the alteration of one results in consequences for both. This current research project focuses on Joik, the traditional Sámi way of singing, a vocal genre unique to the Sámis by its distinct structure and vocal techniques. The Joik practice allows them to evoke animals, like the reindeer, aspects of environment or areas, or even people. Situated at the intersection between ethnomusicology, biology and geography, this research on Joik aims to better grasp the complexity of the links that unite musique and nature/territory amoung the Sámis allowing us to draw a genuine sonorous geography of biodiversity and links, material and symbolic, that maintain the Sámien society with it. In the context where the Arctic is particularly affected by climate change and where extractive industries (mines, forestry) develop the degradation of the Northern environment impacts the inhabitants’ lifestyle as well as the creativity and musical performance at the heart of the Sámien culture and identity. It is a matter of protecting this sonorous treasure that contributes to biocultural diversity. Since the end of the 20th century, the overlapping of music to biology/geography has known a major deepening to develop its own proper domain being ecomusicology. This withdraws from several major branches such as ecocritical, musicology and acoustemology that result from the involvement of environmental problems by musical expression of preoccupations concerning present and future ecosystems. This project favors the application of diverse approaches related to man’s connection with biodiversity and the axis 3 of the QCBS.
Seed Grant 36 : Microplastic pollution in the St. Lawrence River
Tony Ricciardi (McGill University), Anouk Simard (Université Laval), Alison Munson (Université Laval),
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.
Seed Grant 35 : 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),
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 34 : 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),
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 33 : Landscape-level Assessment of Stream Ecosystem integrity in a multi-Industry world
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal),
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), Ivan de la Providencia (Université de Montréal),
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 31 : Urban 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),
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 30 : Dynamic Atlas of Quebec's Biodiversity
Luc Brouillet (Université de Montréal), Terry Wheeler (McGill University), Sylvie de Blois (McGill University), Jeffrey Cardille (McGill University), Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal), Christian Gendreau (Canadensys, Centre sur la biodiversité, Université de Montréal),
The dynamic Atlas of Quebec's biodiversity will present to researchers and to the general public a set of thematic maps from which data on biodiversity and its biophysical factors can be extracted. This will permit biodiversity data mining and its visualization, in order to generate working hypotheses, to extract data for analysis and for scientific popularization. This Atlas project is a collaboration of the QCBS and Canadensys.
Seed Grant 29 : Parallel Adaptive Divergence across Multiple Spatial Scales
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Andrew Hendry (McGill University),
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),
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 27 : Comparative population genetics of estuarine and freshwater copepods
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Gesche Winkler (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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 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),
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 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),
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 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),
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 23 : Insect herbivory in fragmented forestlandscapes: Implications for ecosystem services
Christopher Buddle (McGill University), Elena Bennett (McGill University),
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 22 : 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),
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 21 : Media representations of biodiversity
Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Ira Tanya Handa (Université du Québec à Montréal), Sandra Breux (Université de Montréal),
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 20 : Reference portrait of the aquatic fauna diversity of Gaspésie National Park: a multidisciplinary approach
Pierre Blier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Nathalie Le François (Biodôme de Montréal), 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.),
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 19 : Medicinal biodiversity in Québec
Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal), Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal), Ashleigh Downing (Université de Montréal),
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), Beatrix Beisner (Université du Québec à Montréal),
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 16 : Business and biodiversity: a study of disclosure practices in the energy sector
Olivier Boiral (Université Laval), Luc Bouthillier (Universite Laval),
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 15 : Landscape genetics of Boreal zooplankton metacommunities
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Pedro Peres-Neto (Concordia University), Patrick James (Université de Montréal),
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 14 : Diversity of Quebec's pollinators and nectar plants: development of a field guide
Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), Lyne Lauzon (CRAAQ),
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 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),
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 12 : Towards a DNA Barcoded Flora for Quebec
Jonathan Davies (McGill University), Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Jeffery Saarela (University of Ottawa),
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 11 : 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),
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 10 : Individualism vs. Holism in Non-Speciesist Ethics and Law
Greg Mikkelson (McGill University), Colin Chapman (McGill University),
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 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),
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 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),
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 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),
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 5 : Multi-scalar governance of biodiversity
Louis Guay (Université Laval), Philippe Le Prestre (Université Laval), Jaye Ellis (McGill University), Pierre André (Université de Montréal),
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 4 : 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),
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 3 : 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),
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 2 : Ecosystem services, biodiversity and forest fragmentation in the Montérégie
Elena Bennett (McGill University), Martin Lechowicz (McGill University), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University),
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 1 : 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),
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.