Seed grants

Catalyze new research initiatives by providing funding for researchers to design or further develop research projects and seek larger funding from other sources. Emphasis is given to projects across research themes within axes or between two research axes

 

 

FUNDED PROJECTS

2018

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),
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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.
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 ),
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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).
How do green roofs select for mycorrhizal fungal traits?
Pierre-Luc Chagnon (Université de Montréal), Jacques Brisson (Université de Montréal), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Tonia de Bellis (Dawson College),
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Green roofs are increasingly popular green infrastructures well-recognized for their provision of various urban ecosystem services including the retention of stormwater, the thermal insulation of buildings and the provision of a reservoir of native biodiversity. However, these environments are stressful to plants, which limits their survival and primary production. Mycorrhizal symbioses are well-known to alleviate plant stresses, including the amelioration of water stress, which is the most critical stress experienced by plants on green roofs. This suggests that better harnessing this symbiosis through targeted inoculation could improve the establishment and functioning of green roofs. However, we know that mycorrhizal fungal species vary in their provision of drought tolerance to their host. There is a clear lack of data regarding how mycorrhizal fungal traits (1) are selected by green roofs conditions and (2) influence plant water stress resistance. Our project will evaluate how mycorrhizal fungal communities develop under greenroof, water-stressing conditions, as opposed to the more natural mesic conditions typical of Southern Québec. From there, a longer-term objective will be to characterize the traits of mycorrhizal species thriving under green roofs conditions, to gain mechanistic insights linking mycorrhizal fungal persistence under green roofs and their impact on plant survival and performance. As a whole, this project will significantly advance our understanding of mycorrhizal fungal functional diversity, and will also allow us to make important first steps towards a potential widespread use of mycorrhizal inoculants in green roofs design and establishment.
Investigating the role of foraging behavior in eco-evolutionary dynamics.
Pierre-Olivier Montiglio (Université du Québec à Montréal), Rowan Barrett (McGill University),
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Biodiversity is shaped by feedbacks between ecological and evolutionary processes. This complicates our task of predicting the shape and extent of biodiversity in natural ecosystems. Empirical work suggests that animal behaviour (for example an organism's decision about how to forage or what to eat) is a central component mediating such feedbacks. Yet very few studies have analysed the role of behaviour in such feedbacks directly. We propose to establish a research program to investigate the role of behaviour in the feedback between ecological and evolutionary processes directly. We will analyse how the foraging behaviour and diet of black widow spiders shape the diversity of insect prey communities. In black widows, foraging behaviour leaves a persistent physical silk structure - a web - acting as a trap for insect prey. We can thus sample and manipulate the webs. These spider webs are also amenable to new molecular techniques that enable clear identification of the prey species captured on the webs (DNA metabarcoding). This opens up the possibility to study the relationships between spiders and their prey with a rare level of resolution. Our objectives are to identify suitable study sites, to quantify the abundance and diversity of prey species available to the spiders, and to assess the web structure and diet of the spiders. We will identify study sites around Tucson, Arizona. We will also quantify the number of sticky traps on their webs and compare the structure of webs spun by spiders in standardized conditions across study sites. Finally, we will use DNA metabarcoding to assess the diversity of insect species captured by spiders on their web and quantify the spiders’ diet. This project will start a new collaboration linking expertise in animal behavior, evolutionary ecology, and molecular biology to push our understanding of the role of animal behavior in eco-evolutionary feedbacks.
Modélisation de l’évolution du syndrome de train de vie et conséquences pour la diversité intra-spécifique
Denis Réale (Université du Québec à Montréal), Pierre-Olivier Montiglio (Université du Québec à Montréal), Orr Spiegel (Tel Aviv University, Isreal), Melanie Dammhahn (Potsdam University, Germany),
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Les espèces montrent des cycles de vie qui varient souvent le long d’un continuum biodémographique allant de lent (croissance lente, fécondité limité, survie élevée) à rapide (croissance rapide, forte fécondité, survie limitée). Ces différences de cycle de vie pourraient avoir co-évolué avec des différences physiologiques (niveau hormonaux, taux métaboliques et immunologiques) pour former un syndrome de train de vie. La présence de syndromes de train de vie à l’intérieur des populations pourrait expliquer pourquoi les individus montrent des différences constantes de comportement (i.e. des différences de personnalité). Cette hypothèse est intrigante mais les modèles formels sont encore très rares. Nous proposons de construire un modèle intégrant les théories sur le comportement d’approvisionnement, l’écologie du mouvement, et les théories sur les stratégies d’histoire de vie, pour bâtir des prédictions plus solides et précises sur l’évolution des syndromes de train de vie. Ce modèle alliera des simulations centrées sur l’individu dans un cadre spatialement explicite. Nous nous concentrerons à analyser l’effet des fluctuations de la distribution des ressources alimentaires et du risque de prédation sur l’évolution du syndrome de train de vie. Les prédictions tirées de ce modèle seront testées à partir des données disponibles dans la littérature par un projet de maîtrise à l’UQAM. Ce projet est à l’interface entre la théorie des stratégies d’histoire de vie, la théorie de l’approvisionnement optimal, et l’écologie du mouvement. Il permet d’approfondir nos connaissances sur les mécanismes éco-évolutifs, à l’origine du maintien de la biodiversité, aux niveaux intra-spéficique et inter-spécifique.
Evolutionary resilience at the base of aquatic food webs in face of anthropogenic environmental disturbance
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal),
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The QCBS seed grant will bring new insights about the evolutionary resilience of an organism at the base of aquatic food webs. The persistence of species in face of environmental disturbance can be enabled by rapid evolution, and in some cases, evolutionary rescue. Although evolutionary rescue has been shown to theoretically and experimentally prevent the extinction of local populations, this process has not been demonstrated in natural ecosystems and various factors (demographic, genetic and environmental) that can affect the probability of rescue remain untested. Our project will fill a critical knowledge gap about evolutionary rescue in the wild by employing temporal genomic data and resurrection ecology experiments in whole lake ecosystems that have been impacted by historical human disturbance. We will uncover potential signatures of selection at the the genomic level indicating rapid evolutionary responses in the ecologically significant calanoid copepod (Leptodiaptomus minutus Lilljeborg). Our hypothesis is that L. minutus underwent an evolutionary rescue following historical ecosystem disturbance. Given the broad geographic distribution of this species across north-eastern North America, and its importance in aquatic food webs, genomic data and analyses could then be applied to assess its adaptive resilience in other aquatic ecosystems challenged by climate change and other anthropogenic stressors. We will collaborate with government researchers as well as bring together researchers that utilise facilities from two universities (McGill and UQAM), as well as share a co-advised biology PhD student (Mathilde Salamon, UQAM) and several undergraduate students who will work from both universities.
Satellite Monitoring of Cumberland Sound Beluga Population
Murray Humphries (McGill University), Marianne Marcoux ( Fisheries & Oceans Canada), Bertrand Charry (CTS-Charry Tissier Scientific), Emily Tissier (Concordia University),
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To date, many large arctic mammal species are still considered data poor due to limitations of monitoring techniques used by researchers. Advancement in satellite image resolution offers a new information tool for scientists to monitor wildlife at an individual level, and study their interactions with their environment. Recently listed as an Endangered Species under the Species at Risk Act, the Cumberland Sound beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) population needs urgent conservation efforts to ensure its viability. As a harvested species for subsistence by the nearby Inuit community, the Cumberland Sound population requires constant monitoring to determine hunting quotas and assess any variation in the population trend. We propose to analyze satellite images from WorldView-3 that have a 30cm resolution to determine the feasibility of detecting beluga whales, and upon success, compare abundance estimates obtained from satellite images with known estimates from aerial surveys. This project will help to monitor an endangered population and start a strong partnership between McGill University and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to develop new non-invasive monitoring of Arctic species.
Aural soilscapes: Creating ecological consciousness to climate change
Etienne Yergeau (INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier), Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne (McGill ), Sandra Volny (Panthéon-Sorbonne Paris 1),
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Sounds are a fundamental property of all ecosystems and are inextricably linked to their healthy functioning. Hence, sounds are indicators of ecosystem health that are likely impacted by the ongoing anthropogenic climate change crisis. As human beings we are constantly exposed to sounds coming from our environment, including the ecosystem soil. We are not only passive listeners but active sound participants in the creation of our soundscapes, which we introduce here as the concept of aural soilscapes. Many of those sounds cannot be detected with current scientific methods; yet, they are present and influence us. Thus, we establish a transdisciplinary project of ecologists and a sound artist to create a new approach to create ecological consciousness with our aural soilscapes by conducting a sound field experiment that will set the basis for an exhibition. We betake ourselves to theoretical and physical places to experience and document the becoming of ecological consciousness with our aural soilscapes by addressing the following questions (1) Does soil have a sound and if so how does it sound like? (2) How does climate change impact sounds? (3) How could soil sounds influence us as humans? Bridging artistic and scientific research to the subterranean life in soil, we conceptualize and document the becoming of these almost imperceptible life forms: hearing what cannot be seen and giving a voice to soil and its tiniest inhabitants. The QCBS seed grant will help us to bring awareness to the impact of climate change on the ecosystem soil and ultimately on us as humans.
Linking above- and belowground biodiversity: do forest tent caterpillar outbreaks have cascading effects on soil microbe and springtail communities?
Ira Tanya Handa (Université du Québec à Montréal), Emma Despland (Concordia University), First name Last name (Institution name),
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The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) is a significant defoliator of hardwood stands throughout Canada. In Quebec, there are two foci in which outbreaks appear to cycle independently: one in the south on sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and one in the northwest on trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides). Severe outbreaks occur at approximately 10-year intervals and are responsible for decreases in forest productivity. Historically, infestations usually collapsed after one or two years of defoliation, but longer and more severe outbreaks have been observed in more recent years. Much remains to be understood about how such aboveground changes, mediated by the caterpillar, might cause changes in nutrient cycles and nutrient availability, particularly belowground dynamics of soil microbes and invertebrate communities. For example, potential changes in decomposer community complexity may have important consequeces for C and N cycling of leaf litter in forest ecosystems. Here, we propose a pilot study to assess the functional response of springtail communities to potentially changing litter, root and soil microbial resources in two sites in northern and southern Quebec with deciduous stands subject to a gradient of defoliation due to an ongoing outbreak of forest tent caterpillar since 2016. We propose to study soil microbes and springtails under undefoliated trees, trees that were previously defoliated in 2016 and 2017 or were currently defoliated (in early summer 2018) to address the following hypotheses: 1) defoliation will a) alter the leaf litter quality of sugar maple and trembling aspen and b) alterations will still be visible in leaf litter from trees that were defoliated in the previous year; 2) defoliation will a) increase bacterial versus fungal abundance due to increased nutrient inputs from caterpillar frass and increased root exudation, but b) these effects will not be visible in soils one year after a defoliation event; 3) the functional structure of soil springtail communities (based on mouthpart morphology) will change with changing microbial resources in the stands along the defoliation gradient. Our hope is that this understanding will help us better understand potential mechanisms influencing soil food web interactions and nutrient cycling and ultimately, forest regeneration.

2017

Gradients de biodiversité : démarrage d’un suivi écologique à Alert, pointe nord des Amériques
Joël Bêty (Université du Québec à Rimouski), François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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La biodiversité québécoise et planétaire est clairement structurée le long de gradients de latitude, climat, productivité, biomasse et richesse spécifique qui sont corrélés entre eux. L’étude de ces gradients est un outil puissant pour approfondir notre compréhension de la structure et du fonctionnement de la biodiversité, ainsi que des services qu’elle rend. Dans ce cadre, la mesure des paramètres de la biodiversité aux extrêmes des gradients existant a une grande importance statistique dans toutes les analyses comparatives. Nous allons mettre en place durant l’été 2017 divers protocoles d’échantillonnage de la biodiversité (biomasse et richesse spécifique d’herbivores et prédateurs, pression d’herbivorie, risque de prédation, etc.) dans la toundra arctique à l’extrême nord de l’Ile d’Ellesmere, au Nunavut. Le site choisi se situe près de la Station des Forces canadiennes Alert, le lieu habité en permanence le plus au nord de la planète, à seulement 817 kilomètres du pôle Nord géographique. Ce site semble offrir des occasions d’échantillonnage de très grande valeur à cause de ses caractéristiques géographique (extrémité d’un continent), climatique (climat polaire, moyenne de 3.4 °C en juillet), biologique (très faible productivité) et logistique (base ravitaillée à l’année). Le séjour de terrain sera organisé en étroite collaboration avec la 8ème Escadre/Base des Forces canadiennes Trenton et Environnement et Changement Climatique Canada. Notre démarche assume que, de par son positionnement à la pointe nord des Amériques, le site d’Alert fournira à long terme des occasions d’échantillonnage exceptionnelles pour mieux comprendre la structure et le fonctionnement de la biodiversité québécoise, nord-américaine et circumpolaire. À court terme, les mesures obtenues seront intégrées à plusieurs projets internationaux reposant sur des analyses comparatives entre sites.
Diversité génétique et résilience des herbiers de zostères
Mathieu Cusson (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi), Christian Nozais (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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Les herbiers de zostères fournissent une panoplie de services écosystémiques: maintien de la biodiversité d'espèces associées, contrôle de la qualité de l'eau, protection des berges et productivité des pêcheries. Or, la taille des herbiers de zostères diminue mondialement. La diversité génotypique des zostères a été identifiée comme étant un facteur très important pour la résilience des herbiers de zostères. Malgré ce constat, aucune étude génétique n'a encore été effectuée sur les populations de zostères de l'estuaire et du golfe du Saint-Laurent. Cette information est pourtant essentielle afin de guider les travaux visant à restaurer les herbiers de zostères et à mieux prédire l'état de santé de ces écosystèmes. Une subvention a récemment été accordée par Réseau Québec Maritime pour faire un état des lieux d’herbiers provenant de trois régions de l’estuaire et du nord du golfe du Saint-Laurent. Plus précisément, l’évolution temporelle des herbiers (sur une période de trente ans) sera quantifiée à l’aide de photos aériennes et satellitaires. Une petite partie du budget de cette subvention a été allouée pour la mise au point de marqueurs microsatellites permettant l’analyse de la structure génétique des populations de zostères. L’argent demandé dans le cadre de cette subvention de démarrage permettrait de compléter et d’avoir une meilleure caractérisation génétique de trois populations afin d’obtenir des données préliminaires qui nous permettront d’élaborer par la suite une demande de subvention CRSNG stratégique portant sur la structure génétique d’un plus grand nombre de populations dans l’estuaire et le golfe du Saint-Laurent. La demande de démarrage permettra d’obtenir ces informations qui sont extrêmement pertinentes pour les axes 1 et 2 du CSBQ. Ces données nous permettront d’être en meilleure position pour la demande de CRSNG stratégique.
Déterminants de la diversité microbienne dans trois populations de mésanges bleues vivant dans des habitats contrastés
Steven Kembel (Université du Québec à Montréal), Denis Réale (Université du Québec à Montréal), Anne Charmantier (CEFE/CNRS),
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L’étude de la diversité des communautés microbiennes est devenu un domaine important en écologie et évolution. Pourtant, nos connaissances sur l’importance des caractéristiques des espèces hôtes et de l’environnement sur la structuration de la diversité microbienne et sur le rôle du microbiome sur l’écologie des espèces hôtes sont encore très limitées. Notre projet a pour but de construire les bases d’une étude sur les facteurs impliqués dans la structuration d’une communauté microbienne, le long d’un réseau trophique simple, impliquant deux espèces d’arbres (le chêne vert et le chêne blanc), une espèce de chenille qui consomme leurs feuilles (la tordeuse du chêne) et un oiseau (la mésange bleue) prédateur de cette chenille. Notre étude profitera du programme de recherche à long terme (40 ans) sur trois populations de mésanges bleues de Corse vivant dans des habitats contrastés, et faisant l’objet d’une collaboration entre Réale et Charmantier depuis 2011. Les fonds seront destinés entièrement aux analyses génomiques du microbiome d’échantillons qui seront récoltés en 2017. Avec ces données, nous réaliserons une analyse hiérarchique 1) des liens entre la diversité microbienne et les caractéristiques des mésanges, au niveau individuel (âge, comportement, morphologie et coloration), local (communauté végétale autour du nichoir), et méta-populationnel (habitat dominant), 2) des liens entre les diversités microbiennes, le long du réseau trophique chênes-chenilles-mésanges, et 3) de l’utilisation des informations qualitatives et quantitatives sur le microbiome aviaire comme marqueur de l’habitat d’origine de chaque mésange.
Étude du lien entre la reproduction des oiseaux forestiers et l’entomofaune terrestre et aquatique
François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Christian Nozais (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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Ce projet, en collaboration et avec la Corporation de la forêt d’enseignement et de recherche (FER) Macpès, porte sur l’influence de la dynamique d’émergence de l’entomofaune et les contraintes abiotiques printanières sur la reproduction des oiseaux forestiers. En employant un réseau de nichoirs utilisés par deux espèces de mésanges (la mésange à tête noire et la mésange à tête brune), l’objectif général de ce projet est de déterminer comment la date d’émergence, l’abondance et la qualité nutritive des insectes terrestres et aquatiques agissent en interaction avec l’environnement thermique pour influencer l’initiation de la reproduction, l’effort et le succès reproducteur des oiseaux forestiers. Il vise également à déterminer les contributions relatives des milieux aquatiques et terrestres à la ressource alimentaire accessible à la faune aviaire insectivore. Deux objectifs particuliers forment les bases de deux projets de maîtrise. Le premier (MSc J.C. Riva) a pour objectif de déterminer comment la phénologie d’émergence des insectes terrestres et aquatiques (suivis à l’aide de pièges) ainsi que l’environnement thermique local (grille de consignateurs de données) interagissent dans leur influence sur l’initiation de la reproduction des mésanges (suivi annuel). Le deuxième (MSc S. Senécal) vise à déterminer comment la valeur énergétique et la qualité nutritionnelle des proies (contenus stomacaux analysés en laboratoire) influencent l’effort parental et le succès reproducteur des parents (inclus dans le suivi annuel) en fonction de l’abondance des insectes. Le suivi annuel de la reproduction des oiseaux est en place depuis 2010. Dans le cadre de notre collaboration, nous allons obtenir des données importantes sur l’abondance et la qualité de la ressource alimentaire exploitée par les oiseaux. Le projet permettra également, d’obtenir des données sur la biodiversité de l’entomofaune terrestre et aquatique du Québec et de pérenniser un programme de suivi lancé en 2015 par la Forêt d’enseignement et de recherche Macpès. Dans le cadre de cette collaboration avec la FER Macpès, nos étudiantes seront impliquées dans le développement d’une collection d’insectes avec notre partenaire et animeront des ateliers d’identification, dans les classes de foresterie du Cégep de Rimouski. Ce projet est la première étape en vue d’une demande de financement FRQNT équipe.
Développement de protocoles pour mesurer le stress oxydatif à l’aide de quatre marqueurs utilisables chez des populations naturelles de mammifères.
Patrick Bergeron (Bishop’s University), Denis Réale (Université du Québec à Montréal), Dany Garant (Université de Sherbrooke),
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L’étude des facteurs affectant l’aptitude phénotypique est un sujet central en écologie évolutive. Un de ces facteurs est la production d’énergie par le métabolisme aérobie qui assure le maintien du rythme de vie mais qui génère aussi des sous-produits toxiques sous forme de radicaux libres oxydants (ROS). Les organismes devraient donc faire un compromis entre l’intensité de leurs activités métaboliques et la gestion des dommages potentiels qui en découlent, causés par les ROS. Le stress oxydatif est identifié comme un des mécanismes proximaux du compromis entre traits d’histoire de vie. Malgré le nombre grandissant d’études sur le sujet, il est encore difficile d’identifier les causes de la variation inter et intra-spécifique du stress oxydatif et de quantifier leur effet relatif. Ces difficultés sont en bonne partie dues à des contraintes logistiques liées à l’utilisation de kits commerciaux pour obtenir un nombre de mesures de stress oxydatifs diversifiées et valides. Pourtant, une bonne compréhension des mécanismes pouvant induire des changements dans le profil oxydatif est essentielle afin de situer l’importance de ce trait dans un contexte écologique, notamment en lien avec les relations consommateurs-producteurs. Ce projt vise spécifiquement le développement de protocoles polyvalents pour mesurer le stress oxydatif à l’aide de marqueurs multiples utilisables sur des populations naturelles. Ultimement, les données obtenues à l’aide de ces marqueurs permettront de tester les d’hypothèses concernant les compromis impliqués dans l’évolution des traits d’histoire de vie en milieu naturel, et de mieux comprendre l’interaction entre le statut oxydatif des populations de consommateurs et les antioxydants alimentaires disponibles dans l’environnement. Les protocoles développés et utilisés dans le cadre de ce projet seront applicables pour toutes les espèces de mammifères.
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
Écotone tourbière-forêt : diversité végétale et fonctions écosystémiques
Julie Talbot (Université de Montréal), Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal),
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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.

2016

L'utilisation de spécimens d'herbier pour évaluer les tendances des dépôts azotés et leurs impacts sur la biodiversité végétale des tourbières
Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal), Etienne Laliberté (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Julie Talbot (Université de Montréal),
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L'azote est un élément essentiel à la croissance des organismes vivants. Bien que les organismes terrestres baignent dans un réservoir illimité d'azote atmosphérique, cette forme d'azote non réactive n'est pas directement assimilable par la grande majorité d'entre eux. Les activités industrielles ont engendré une augmentation importante des dépôts atmosphériques d'azote sous formes assimilables. Cette nouvelle charge est particulièrement importante dans les régions industrialisées du nord de l'Amérique du Nord, où les dépôts actuels seraient d'un ordre de magnitude plus élevé que ceux préindustriels. L'altération du cycle global de l'azote suite à l'augmentation de la charge en azote assimilable d'origine anthropique est ainsi devenue une préoccupation majeure pour le maintien de la biodiversité et de l'intégrité de plusieurs écosystèmes. Cette menace est particulièrement élevée pour les écosystèmes qui sont naturellement pauvres en éléments nutritifs comme les tourbières ombrotrophes, où l'apport en éléments nutritifs provient exclusivement des dépôts atmosphériques. Ces tourbières sont dominées par plusieurs espèces de bryophytes, qui accumulent directement dans leurs cellules les nutriments provenant des influx atmosphériques. Certaines études ont montré qu'il est possible, en comparant la composition isotopique azotée (?15N) de spécimens d'herbier de bryophytes à celle de spécimens vivants, d'évaluer l'évolution historique des émissions d'origines anthropiques. De telles données sont particulièrement importantes pour comprendre l'effet potentiel des dépôts d'azote d'origine humaine sur la biodiversité et le fonctionnement des tourbières dans les régions où les suivis de ces dépositions sont très récents et spatialement limités, comme c'est le cas au Québec. Dans ce contexte, notre objectif est d'évaluer la possibilité d'utiliser les spécimens d'herbier de sphaignes pour évaluer les changements à long terme des dépôts d'azotes dans les tourbières du Québec. Les données obtenues permettront, entre autres, de mieux comprendre l'influence des dépôts azotés sur les changements récents observés dans leur biodiversité et leur structure, notamment le boisement important depuis les 50 dernières années. Elles pourront aussi servir à bonifier les modèles de l'évolution à long terme des tourbières canadiennes.
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
Epigenetic Adaptation to Temperature Change
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Daniel Schoen (McGill University),
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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.
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
Flora of the 21st century: towards adaptation strategies for climate change
Sylvie de Blois (McGill University), Mark Vellend (Université de Sherbrooke),
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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.

2015

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),
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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.
Inter-institutional pitfalls of environmental governance
Gordon Hickey (McGill University), Ismael Vaccaro (McGill University), Murray Humphries (McGill University),
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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.
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),
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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).
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),
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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.
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),
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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?
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
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),
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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.
Adaptive phenotypic divergence in brook trout: implications for eco-evolutionary feedbacks
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Dylan Fraser (Concordia University),
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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.
The nature of sound: the links between music, culture and biodiversity in the Sámi people in Laponie
Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal),
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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.

2014

Microplastic pollution in the St. Lawrence River
Tony Ricciardi (McGill University), Anouk Simard (Université Laval), Alison Munson (Université Laval),
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Recently, microplastics (synthetic polymer particles less than 2 mm) have been found abundant in the surface waters of the Great Lakes. Although microplastic pollution has been identified in marine systems since the 1970s, there have been very few (and only recent) reports of such pollution in freshwater environments. In 2013, the Ricciardi lab discovered polyethylene microbeads in the sediments at five sites along a 300-km section of the St. Lawrence River. A high prevalence and abundance of microbeads in sediments may cause ecological impacts resulting from ingestion by benthivorous macroinvertebrates and fishes. To determine the extent to which these pollutants have entered benthic food webs, we will quantify the consumption of microbeads in the Eurasian round goby, one of the most common benthic fishes in the river. Densities of microbeads will be sampled (using a Ponar grab and 500m sieve) along transects at sites receiving effluent from industries and compared to non-effluent sites. We will capture round gobies at each site, measure the percent occurrence and percent volume of microbeads in their digestive tracts, and determine if these metrics are correlated with local densities in the sediments. Such information could provide justification for future ecotoxicological and food web studies involving this increasingly prevalent pollutant.
Quantifying biodiversity across multiple disciplines
Colin Favret (Université de Montréal), Anouk Simard (Université Laval), Tony Ricciardi (McGill University), Patrick M.A. James (Université de Montréal), Luc Brouillet (Université de Montréal),
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All biodiversity measures are subject to trade-offs. A complete survey would cover everything from subterranean microbial communities to migratory animals continuously. Given limited resources, this is never possible and as a result surveys must be optimized given the resources available. A significant challenge in biodiversity science is the quantification of biodiversity. On the one hand, a lack of taxonomic expertise hampers inventories of the most diverse taxa. On the other hand, it is not obvious how or if remote sensing reflects on-the-ground reality. The project seeks to develop the protocols for sampling and recording and to establish the proof-of-concept that multiple, methodologically distinct measures of biological diversity are indeed comparable. During the summer 2014, we will compare and correlate invasive and remote methods for the quantification of biodiversity in a Laurentian habitat: 1) a traditional plant survey; 2) insect DNA barcode diversity; 3) microbial metagenomic diversity; 4) soundscape recordings; 5) satellite and gigapixel imagery. The first part of summer will be devoted to installing insect suction traps and soundscape recorders in a forest habitat 2m (understory) and 8m (canopy) above the ground in a forested habitat. During this time, we will ensure that the equipment functions as intended and evaluate the monitoring and equipment maintenance needs for the formal data-acquisition phase. Data capture will take place before and over the course of the summer-fall transition. We will compare biodiversity assessments for two time periods at both monitoring locations (2m and 8m): plant species lists at 10 m and 25 m radii from the trapping/recording location, DNA barcode species diversity of selected orders of flying insects, metagenome diversity of bacteria on insect legs as determined by 16S DNA diversity, acoustic recordings at 96 KHz, satellite imagery. These preliminary experiments will inform the establishment of a future sampling regime over broader spatial and temporal scales.
Citizen Science Project for monitoring the maternity of bats in Quebec: Quebec Bats
Anouk Simard (Université Laval), François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Jean-Philippe Lessard (Concordia University), Murray Humphries (McGill University),
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Ever since the arrival of white coat syndrome in North America in 2006, and in Quebec in 2010, a precipitous decline has been observed among the populations of cave bats. The impact as we predict it may involve a possible elimination of certain populations. Considering the magnitude of this threat against this group of mammals which was abundant just as they were ecologically important, it is essential to improve the understanding of the situation as well as the way in which to proceed. We propose to establish a website to build a monitoring network of the bat colonies. Such a site would allow to colligate the presence of the bat colonies in anthropogenic shelters and to count their emergence, when possible. The site will allow administrators and scientists to have access to a better understanding about the distribution and any modification concerning the abundance of bat colonies and in effect, follow a suitable approach. Certain research projects could be initiated from such a resource, notably on a level of dynamic bat populations, the composition of their diets of insects, and on their selection of certain environmental characteristics. Obtaining the QCBS seed grant will assure a better success of the project by assembling a number of partners and by increasing the resources to construct and promote the website, the sensibility of the public, as well as the development of certain initiatives of research. This grant will allow not only to favor the sensibility of the public toward bats, but it will also improve the development of comprehension for this group poorly understood in Quebec.
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),
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Plant litter decomposition is a keystone ecosystem process that links riparian vegetation, physico-chemical environment, and decomposer communities in streams. Land use is known to impact leaf decomposition in streams, but landscape-level comparative assessment of leaf litter decomposition exposed to different disturbance types is rare, especially in aquatic ecosystems. Local studies are not coordinated and differ in methods, confounding comparisons across land use type. The goal of the project-at-large is to uniquely relate community-level diversity and productivity of two major decomposition agents (microbes and invertebrates) to ecosystem function (leaf litter decomposition) in freshwater boreal streams using standardized methodology. This will be done as a leaf litter manipulation experiment in replicate streams that have been and are exposed to different types of anthropogenic land use: metal mining, agriculture, and pristine forest in the northern, boreal region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, QC. Essential funds from a QCBS seed grant ($5000) would cover the empirical costs of quantifying microbial diversity and community composition component of the project, as well as support a new and novel QCBS collaboration. Derry and Kembel, both at UQAM, have never collaborated in the past, and this seed project represents the beginning of a new and fruitful research partnership that uniquely integrates the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The northern, boreal focus on ecosystem function in stream ecosystems is likely to be of broad importance as northern Quebec becomes increasingly industrialized and faces impacts associated with climate change. This seed grant will support an essential component of a foundation project that will extend into further collaboration between Derry and Kembel, and with other QCBS.
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),
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The rhizosphere microbiome (i.e. also referred as the second genome of the plant) is a dynamic community of microorganisms, which have developed long-lasting intimate and specific interactions with plants roots. Recent advances in plant-microbe interactions signify their profound effects on the growth, nutrition, and health of plants. Much of our current knowledge regarding interactions and processes in the rhizosphere microbiome has emerged from studies on agricultural and horticultural systems. However, our understanding of such interactions when plants are growing under stressful conditions is still in its infancy. Such studies will help us to understand plant strategies for recruiting key microbial taxa, allowing them to better adapt to stress conditions and might also help to design new strategies for ecosystem rehabilitation (i.e. land reclamation). Taking this step further, this project aims to investigate the shape of the rhizosphere microbiome of native plants growing under highly stressed conditions. Knowledge of biodiversity of microbes on the rhizosphere under stressful conditions might facilitate their precise management, accelerating processes of land reclamation. Our proposal is not only important for soil-based studies, since new insights and methods arising from this proposal might be applied to other areas such as agriculture, conservation biology, human and animal microbiome.
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),
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The percentage of the world’s population in urban areas now exceeds 50%, and this proportion will continue to grow. Nature in urban spaces, generally composed of rich biodiversity, improve the lifestyle of city-dwellers, thus becoming of growing importance. However, urban biodiversity is often severely affected by the omnipresence of non-indigenous species and the decline of specialist indigenous species. In this context, our team wishes to take on a new research project aimed at understanding the effects of urbanization on floristic diversity in urban areas while considering the heterogeneity of specific habitats within large ecosystems. In this project, we are particularly interested in untended spaces wherein the floristic species can grow spontaneously. We will therefore lean towards habitats suitable for the growth of herbaceous plants and spontaneous shrubs, while omitting small forests, parks and other accommodated areas which depend on a different dynamic of vegetal regeneration. This project will provide answers to several questions, such as: Does spontaneous vegetation in urban areas differ between various types of habitat? Is urban wildlife dominated by non-indigenous species and do these species induce a biotic homogeneity in different habitats? Does the intensity of urbanization influence this homogeneity?
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),
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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.
Parallel Adaptive Divergence across Multiple Spatial Scales
Rowan Barrett (McGill University), Andrew Hendry (McGill University),
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Much research has explored ecological variation as a driver of adaptation, which can in turn increase biodiversity through speciation. Identifying the mechanisms and dynamics of this process is important for understanding both past and present patterns of biodiversity. Perhaps even more importantly, understanding how ecology shapes biodiversity in natural settings can allow us to make informed predictions of how biodiversity will respond when faced with human-driven changes in ecology. While many studies look at how two or more different environments promote ecological diversification in a single set of populations, such analyses represent a single replication, and the results may not be applicable to other populations. Parallel adaptive evolution provides a naturally replicated experiment with which we can test the generality of biodiversity patterns driven by ecological factors. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) species complex contains numerous ecotype pairs produced primarily via ecologically driven diversification. One such pair, lake-stream, has been found in disparate regions of the species range, from Vancouver Island to Ireland to continental Europe. Such an expansive distribution makes these pairs the ideal candidate for tests of parallel adaptive divergence. Tests of parallelism of Vancouver Island pairs have shown that some morphological traits and genetic markers are strongly predicted by environment type, indicating that ecology can predict patterns of biodiversity.         This project aims to expand this test of parallel adaptive diversification to encompass lake-stream pairs across continents.  Our goal will be to sample specimens from Quebec, Alaska, Ireland, and central Europe. Using established protocols, phenotypic differences in body shape, foraging traits, and diet will be quantified and tested for parallel adaptive divergence. To test for parallel genotypic divergence, restriction-site associated markers will be used to gain a wide measure of diversity across the genome. We can then test if pairs that show parallel phenotypic divergence also show parallel genotypic divergence.             The results of this study will contribute towards a greater understanding of the predictive nature of ecologically driven adaptive divergence in threespine stickleback. Such knowledge will provide valuable insight when species are confronted with anthropogenic changes to their environments, and will be faced with adaptation versus potential extinction.

2013

Demonstration of the Use of Genotyping-by-sequencing Method for Studying Biodiversity
Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal),
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The "new generation" sequencing methods is rapidly gaining popularity in many aspects of biodiversity science. Traditional techniques, such as microsatellites in population genetics and the AFLP in quantitative genetics, are predicted to be replaced by reduced-representing sequencing very soon. These new methods are fast and relatively inexpensive, but they require a good understanding of bioinformatics, which itself needs a considerable effort in order to understand and analyse. This request aims to demonstrate the use of the genotyping-by-sequencing method for two important applications in biodiversity science: the diversity of model indicative plant populations and the creation of genetic maps of a non-model species with the goal of mapping quantitative trait loci (QTLs) related to ecological speciation.
Comparative population genetics of estuarine and freshwater copepods
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Gesche Winkler (Université du Québec à Rimouski),
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We request QCBS funds ($5000) to support the discovery of polymorphic microsatellite loci in two estuarine and freshwater calanoid copepods for which these markers do not currently exist. The development of these molecular resources will enable further collaborations between Winkler and Derry in which they plan to explore how habitat differences between estuaries and lakes influence genetic diversity and gene flow in copepod populations. Despite the ecological and evolutionary significance of copepods across a wide diversity of aquatic environments, there exist few genomic resources for understanding the maintenance of their genetic diversity. The maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations is a fundamental question in evolution and ecology, especially in light of anthropogenic disturbance and widespread degradation of natural habitats. We will collaborate with Annie Archambault who has spearheaded bringing high through-put sequencing methods for microsatellite discovery in non-model organisms at QCBS. This project will be the first of its kind, and will therefore serve as proof of concept for an overall larger project in which we hope to attract at least 6 other researchers to conduct similar analyses for other organisms that include insects, mammals, birds, and amphibians.  A QCBS seed grant will enable us to kick-start a small collaborative project that will likely attract other QCBS researchers, which could lead to a QCBS working group/ FRQNT team grant for developing molecular resources in non-model organisms.
Anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity, fish habitat, and health of Grand Lac St. François and other winter-drawdown lakes and reservoirs
Chris Solomon (McGill University), Christian Nozais (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Irene Gregory-Eaves (McGill University),
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Hydrologic alterations, such as the construction of dams and subsequent water level management, have had major impacts on aquatic ecosystems around the globe. Grand Lac St. François (GLSF) is a large and faunally-diverse lake in southern Québec. Normal dam operations on the outflow stream here lead to large (up to 6 m) and variable winter water level drawdown in GLSF. Smaller drawdowns occur in many other lakes in the region. In this project we will investigate the effects of these drawdowns on the abundance and biodiversity of invertberates and fishes in these lakes, and begin to explore potential implications for major recreational fishery species.
Re-adapting to biodiversity - Scientific Monitoring of Common Birds in Schools
François Vézina (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Dominique Berteaux (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Pierre Legagneux (UQAR), Guillaume Larocque (CSBQ/QCBS), Quinn Fletcher (UQAR),
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We propose a scientific project on common bird species implicating four elementary schools in the region of Rimouski. This project is to initiate an approach on the reproduction of common birds by setting up a network of nests. On a scientific level, our program aims to establish an ecophysiological approach during a medium term on many common bird species by using a network of schools to contrast the reproduction and physiology of these species that reproduce in urban and rural areas. This project has a larger objective concerning the establishment of a continued network in Quebec and in France. On an educational level, we hope to raise awareness of the children (and their parents) to their roles within their community to favour biodiversity. In order to raise this awareness to the inhabitants and to act for the recovery of the biodiversity in both the city and the country, this project depends on the schools in Rimouski. This program will take place in four schools (two in the rural area, two in the urban area). These schools are affiliated with the movement of Établissements Verts Brundtland de la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (EVB-CSQ) which brings educational programs of the environment in more than 1000 schools across the province. The following of reproduction will be assured by the students of UQAR as well as by the children themselves. This program will profit from the corresponding website where the children will be able to upload their information. The locations of the nests will be mapped, which will allow an easier submission of data in a standardized manner. All the data will be made available to the public. We have gathered a multidisciplinary group of biologists and specialists in education and popularization. We have also identified parents in each school ready to promote this project. These parents all work at UQAR and they have at least on child attending a school within the EVB-CSQ.
Next generation DNA sequencing technologies as a tool to resolve phylogeny of closely related plants to gain instights into the evolution of biodiversity
Selvadurai Dayanandan (Concordia University), Jonathan Davies (McGill University),
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Gaining insights into the evolution of biodiversity requires testing of hypotheses relevant to many scales of diversity ranging from plant microbe interactions through multi-species communities, which often requires robust phylogenetic trees of closely related taxa. Current progress in furthering our understanding of the evolution of biological diversity is severely hampered by the difficulties in resolving the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) of closely related species.  This limitation could be mainly attributable to technological challenges in assessing DNA sequence variability at more than few selected genes or genomic regions with sufficient variability. The proposed project aims to close this knowledge gap by using a novel approach that capitalizes on recent advances in genomics technology.  We will use next generation DNA sequencing based, restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing methodology to obtain DNA sequence data covering a much wider region of the genome from multiple individuals of several Populus species to demonstrate the feasibility of resolving the phylogenetic relationships as well as uncovering introgression and reticulate evolution among closely related species. By demonstrating a proof of concept, this project will provide us with an opportunity to develop an innovative research proposal to seek funding from external sources including the NSERC and FRQNT programs for the advancement of scientific knowledge and train researchers including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in cutting-edge technologies relevant to evolutionary research.

2012

Media representations of biodiversity
Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Ira Tanya Handa (Université du Québec à Montréal), Sandra Breux (Université de Montréal),
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Born in 1985, the term biodiversity has grown from twenty-seven years and is a major environmental challenge. The frequent reference to this term, however generated diverse and multiple representations. Two main factors explain this abundance of various representations. First, despite its frequent use, the definition of this concept is discussed even uncertain, particularly because it is used by many disciplines and applies to multiple scales. As proof, various definitions and measures of biodiversity have and are being debated within the scientific community and the concept evolves. Second, the term biodiversity is frequently reported by the media. These references in the media also generate representations, sometimes cantilevered overhang definitions, results and theories. These media representations are indirectly feed-in number and sometimes their nature - the fuzzy terminology assigned to this notion and may contribute to a misunderstanding of the concept. This exploratory research aims to study the representations of biodiversity in the Québec media, first by establishing a general overview and history of the term and then analyzing in depth the meanings and skills associated with it and its evolution. Ultimately, such a project should encourage the development of tools to improve the understanding of this concept by the general public, policy makers and players involved in designing instruments or arrangements of conservation or recovery of biodiversity.
Abundance and diversity of pollinators on green roofs
Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), Danielle Dagenais (Université de Montréal), Nathalie Roullé (Auxiliaire de recherche, Chaire en paysage et environnement),
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Pollinators play a critical role in the functioning of different urban ecosystems through their influence on the reproduction of flowering plants. Green roofs are specific environments because they are exposed to sun and wind as well as extreme drought and high flow of water. Green roofs are part of the green infrastructure including large-scale implementation could reduce the impacts of urbanization and climate change in Quebec : It is therefore important to understand the factors that promote greater insect biodiversity on green roofs, including pollinators, to design future green roofs accordingly. The objective of our study will be to identify the characteristics of roofs that favor the presence of pollinators on roofs. This knowledge will provide essential information to guide development projects of green roofs.
Reference portrait of the aquatic fauna diversity of Gaspésie National Park: a multidisciplinary approach
Pierre Blier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Nathalie R. 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.),
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The diverse ecosystems of the Gaspésie National park are an excellent representation of the northern Quebec ecosystems. Currently, there is very little data on the diversity of the park’s aquatic fauna. The acquisition of this knowledge will allow adopting better strategies to maintain this diversity and the associated ecosystem services. At the invitation of the managers of the Gaspésie Park, the project aims to document the species diversity as well as the genetic and functional diversity of the park’s aquatic fauna. This will allow to connect the environmental characteristics of biodiversity and draw a reference point. The study of biodiversity is achieved by a cross-disciplinary approach along two axes: a taxonomic/genetic axis and an eco-physiology axis. This project is initiated from the perspective of long-term monitoring of freshwater ecosystems of this territory but also to better understand and detect changes in the aquatic ecosystems of northern Quebec caused by climate change and by increasing human pressures. The project has a dual nature as both the fish fauna and the diversity of aquatic invertebrates will be studied. An innovative approach that integrates species inventory, DNA bar-coding, eco-informatics and eco-physiology will be utilized. This seed grant will allow us to initiate the collection of data in the summer of 2012 as well as 1) to coordinate with activities already planned by the MRNF in lake York (a region bordering the Gaspésie Park); and 2) to integrate the study of this park’s biodiversity into the undergraduate program at UQAM (Diagnosis of lake Cascapédia).
Insect herbivory in fragmented forestlandscapes: Implications for ecosystem services
Christopher Buddle (McGill University), Elena Bennett (McGill University),
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Fragmented landscapes have reduced ecosystem function and biodiversity, which can have negative impacts on the ecosystem services (ES) they support. An important ecological process that has been observed to respond to forest fragmentation, and which can also influence the production of ecosystem services is herbivory, that is, the consumption of herbaceous material by insects. Here we will use herbivory in the deciduous forests of southern Quebec (i.e. the Montérégie) as a model process to build quantitative understanding of the relationship between forest fragmentation, ecosystem processes, and the provision of ecosystem services. Therefore, the objective of this project is to test how vertebrate, and invertebrate predators of a target herbivore species (the forest tent caterpillar [FTC]) are affected by changes in landscape structure, and whether this can explain spatial variation in patterns of herbivory across the landscape. This will be done with field experiments in which we manipulate the exposure of FTC larvae to predation in sugar maple dominated forest patches that vary in landscape structural characteristics at the patch scale such as size and connectivity.
Medicinal biodiversity in Québec
Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal), Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal), Ashleigh Downing (Université de Montréal),
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Medicinal biodiversity is poorly known or neglected. Little is known about traditional medicine native plants surrounding Quebec or Canada. First Nations want to participate and collaborate with researchers who 'performed with them in an ethical manner on parallel topics (antidiabetic plants, impacts of climate change on medicinal plants, caribou migration route). In addition to the simple enumeration of medicinal plants in Québec or in a given environment, the project ventures into uncharted territory and placed on originality in calculating indices of medicinal biodiversity. These new indices affect 1) the different habitats, 2) the different strata, 3) groups Raunkiaer. The indices used for the conservation of medicinal plants, habitats rich in genetic resources. They will be available to First Nations who want to protect their territory and government policy makers.
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),
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A recent analysis examining zooplankton assemblages preserved in surface sediments (integrating ~5 yrs of deposition) from 50 boreal lakes, argues that environment trumps predation and spatial factors in structuring cladoceran communities?. Stimulating questions arise as a result of these contrasting results: i) are the differences between contemporary vs. surface sediment zooplankton studies because only a portion of the zooplankton community produces readily-identified subfossils in lake sediments (primarily cladocerans), and ii) is dispersal limitation in cladocerans a process that operates only over a relatively short time scale being thus obscured in the sediment record? Herein we propose to combine innovative genetic techniques with classical taxonomic subfossil analyses to quantify how zooplankton communities have responded to metal contamination and recovery over the past century and evaluate whether these techniques differ in their sensitivity to detect evidence for dispersal-limitation in sediment cores. Specifically, we will test the hypothesis that increases in species richness and genetic diversity during the recovery phase of lakes occurs more slowly for copepods than for cladocerans, based on an expectation that copepods are more dispersal-limited. The project will focus on lakes around Schefferville, Quebec, where historical mining activity has results in metal-enrichment in numerous lakes and where there is now resurgence in mining activity. For many northern lakes there are no long-term ecological data, so a clear understanding of the sensitivity of different sediment core analyses will be paramount for quantifying biological responses to environmental change.
Business and biodiversity: a study of disclosure practices in the energy sector
Olivier Boiral (Université Laval), Luc Bouthillier (Universite Laval),
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The information released in sustainable development reports of the Global reporting initiative (GRI) are both the most transparent and reliable for the study of this type of question. On one hand, GRI guidelines are increasingly considered as a reference in the development of sustainable development reports. Consequently, almost 80% of these reports produced by large corporations use GRI guidelines. One of the main objectives of the GRI is to reinforce the rigor and transparency of sustainable development plans among stakeholders. GRI reports can aid in the application of indicators proposed by the norm. A and A+ levels will be retained in the study and are the most stringent as they propose the application of all the key indicators of the GRI (including the sectoral supplements) and, in A+ reports, a verification by external auditors. The GRI is planning on developing multiple indicators for biodiversity. Hence, we can initially suppose that the GRI reports with an A or A+ level will provide relatively reliable information on biodiversity issues and corporate efforts in this area. In this case, the study would allow to shed light on the limitations related to private sector considerations regarding biodiversity.
Landscape genetics of Boreal zooplankton metacommunities
Alison Derry (Université du Québec à Montréal), Pedro Peres-Neto (Concordia University), Patrick James (Université de Montréal),
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Aquatic ecosystems in boreal regions are anticipated to change dramatically as a result of climatic warming. Possible species reactions to climatic effects include shifts in geographical distributions, adaptation, or local extirpation if spatial environmental changes exceed ecological tolerances. We propose to apply a landscape genetics framework to infer relative dispersal ability and distribution of spatial genetic variation among co‐existing zooplankton species across boreal landscapes. This information will allow us to understand the nature of zooplankton metacommunity responses to environmental changes in northern lake ecosystems, which are anticipated to undergo major alterations as a result of climate change.
The Giant Hogweed: study dynamics of a biological invasion as of its initiation
Claude Lavoie (Université Laval), Sylvie de Blois (McGill University), Jacques Brisson (Université de Montréal),
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The plant, giant hogweed, is very invasive and is a nuisance to public health (dermatitis). There is a strong interest from several agencies to learn more about this invader. The parallels between giant hogweed and common reed are many, especially regarding the routes of dissemination (roads) and control potential through competitive mechanisms. There is however a fundamental difference between the two invasions. If the common reed is present in Quebec for over a century, giant hogweed has been observed in nature in the province over the past twenty years. It is therefore possible that the invasion is still in its initial stage, a stage where we can act effectively to control, if not eliminate it. It is still necessary to have a realistic picture of the distribution and size of populations. The presence of giant hogweed was reported nearly 300 times, but it is likely that a large part of these statements are false, because it is easily confused with other plant species. We therefore propose to create a database on reported cases and check their existence on the ground during the summer of 2012.
Diversity of Quebec's pollinators and nectar plants: development of a field guide
Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), Lyne Lauzon (CRAAQ),
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There has been a growing public awareness with the loss of pollinators leading to their desire to take concrete action to contribute to their conservation. However, at the present time, no field guide adapted in a Quebec context and French language on pollinating insects and associated plants exists. The project aims at producing a field guide on Quebec’s pollinators and nectar plants diversity. The grant will be used to develop a preliminary table of contents of a book on plant and pollinator species and to write a grant application to be submitted to the CDAQ (Conseil pour le développement de l'agriculture du Québec) in order to achieve the complete work in collaboration with Mrs. Line Lauzon, project officer to publications at the CRAAQ (Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec).

2011

Towards a DNA Barcoded Flora for Quebec
Jonathan Davies (McGill University), Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Jeffery Saarela (University of Ottawa),
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The province of Quebec encompasses some 2,500 species of flowering plants, representing about half of the known diversity in Canada. Although efforts to document the distribution and diversity of the Quebec flora have been ongoing for nearly 400 years, we have, with few exceptions, only scant ecological information on many species, and no comprehensive, up-to-date resource on their taxonomy and distributions. At present, most available tools for species identification are scattered in the scientific literature in the form of technical, dichotomous keys usable in most cases only by trained individuals. DNA bar-coding is an emerging method of species and discovery that uses the short sequences of genomic DNA to rapidly distinguish species; critically, taxonomic experience is not required, and identifications can be made with any plant part (leaf fragment, root, pollen grain etc.) as opposed to mature, reproductive specimens that are often required in taxonomic keys. Here, we propose to begin the work necessary to create a comprehensive DNA barcode library of the Quebec flora. Eventually, when handheld technology is developed, a complete DNA barcode library will transform the bioliteracy of Quebecers and Canadians, allowing anybody to rapidly identify a specimen in nature.
Individualism vs. Holism in Non-Speciesist Ethics and Law
Greg Mikkelson (McGill University), Colin Chapman (McGill University),
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Within environmental ethics, much debate has focused on whether we owe direct moral concern to individual organisms only, or also to larger wholes as such, e.g., species, ecosystems, and/or relationships between organisms. Meanwhile, in environmental law exciting recent progress has occurred in establishing and/or extending the rights enjoyed by sentient animals, on one hand, and entire ecosystems, on the other. What ties these developments in ethics and law together is that they are all "non-speciesist": they go beyond human rights, to acknowledge the claims made on us by nonhuman and/or more-than-human natural entities. We seek to answer three questions concerning this topic: a) To what extent do utilitarianism (the best-developed form of moral individualism) and richness theory (the most promising form of moral holism) converge or diverge in their judgments about concrete choices between biodiversity conservation and so-called "development"? b) What conclusions can be drawn from the answer to Question #1 about the relative merits of the two theories, and of ethical individualism and holism more generally? And c) Which kind of legislation holds the most promise for protecting biodiversity: animal rights (as the German constitution now enshrines) or ecosystem rights (as the new Ecuadorian constitution upholds)?
Community-based biodiversity monitoring using GPS-equipped handheld devices
Murray Humphries (McGill University), Colin H. Scott (McGill University), Monica Mulrennan (Concordia University), Thora Martina Herrmann (Université de Montréal), Alain Cuerrier (Université de Montréal),
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Community-based observations on the land and water are an important component of traditional knowledge systems that have the potential to be integrated into formalized community-based biodiversity monitoring programs (CbBM). A promising, new approach in CbBM involves combining rugged GPS-equipped electronic devices with software designed to simplify field data collection, enabling rapid and accurate recording of observations by non technical observers of the environment. CyberTracker is one such software system, originally designed for non-literate animal trackers in South Africa. CyberTracker collects data through a series of customizable icons on a touch screen interface. This seed grant project seeks to identify opportunities and constraints associated with the use of GPS-equipped handheld devices in community-based biodiversity monitoring.
Influence of diversity at the locus of the major histocompatibility complex on resistance to parasites and survival of tree swallows in agricultural areas
Dany Garant (Université de Sherbrooke), Sophie Calmé (Université de Sherbrooke),
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In Quebec, the transition from traditional cultures (more extensive) to intensive cultures has been particularly spectacular in the past fifty years and has potentially caused significant disruptions in term of animal populations. A group of countryside birds particularly at risk regarding agricultural intensification is that of aerial insectivore birds, primarily represented by swallows. In Canada, swallow species associated with agricultural landscapes have been subjected to an annual drop varying between 2.5% and 7.5% in the last 20 years. So far, most of studies having qualified the influence of agricultural intensification on these species only targeted the effects of agriculture on specific wealth or abundance of countryside birds. This results in a blatant lack of knowledge on mechanisms by which agriculture affects genetic diversity and its impact on the fitness of people and consequently, the structure and dynamics of populations. This project aims to characterize the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, exon 3, class 1 locus) for tree swallows evolving in agricultural habitats of intensive and extensive types in southern Quebec. This development will allow later to evaluate the influence of the number and type of MHC alleles on the survival of adult and young birds of tree swallow in those habitats.
Does competition constrain evolutionary rescue in a changing environment?
Fanie Pelletier (Université de Sherbrooke), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University), Claire de Mazancourt (McGill University), Benoit Guillemette (Universtié de Sherbrooke),
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In the wake of increasing global change, evolutionary rescue could play a key role for species persistence. The goal of this project is to explore the effect of competition on the potential for evolutionary rescue to occur. Our study builds upon a previous experimental evolution study that has shown that evolutionary rescue can occur if population size is sufficiently large and that the environmental changes are not too large in magnitude. Recent theoretical models, however, have suggested that evolutionary rescue might be constrained or even precluded in the presence of competitors in the environment. Using experimental evolution, our study will assess whether competition might limit the occurrence of evolutionary rescue. Results from this research are likely to be very important, as virtually all species in nature have to face competition. If it can be shown in the lab that competition limits the potential for evolutionary rescue to occur following environmental change then it opens the door to studies of this effect in the field.
Distribution, abundance, and parasite specificity of protocalliphora flies
Jacques Brodeur (Université de Montréal), Jade Savage (Bishop’s University), Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal), Terry Whitworth (Washington State University), Simon Daoust (Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Université de Montréal),
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The flies of the Protocalliphora genus have a very particular life cycle: the larval are obligate parasites of birds feeding on their host’s blood. Several studies have shown that Protocalliphora larvae can reduce the fitness levels of their host bird, even killing them. However, we know very little about the ecology of these flies. Dr. Whitworth has in his disposal a collection of 300,000 specimens of all know species from sampling 8,500 nests of birds across North America and Europe. This collection has not been studied because it is not accessible. The objective of this grant is to digitize and integrate in Canadensys, Dr. Whitworth’s entomology collection, a significant portion of which will be integrated in the Ouellet-Robert collection at the University of Montreal.

2010

Study of phylogeographic patterns among the rare plants of the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence ecoregion
Simon Joly (Université de Montréal), Daniel Schoen (McGill University), Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal),
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Conservation of biodiversity frequently requires consideration of unit below the species level called DUs. To be assessed, a population or a group of populations must meet certain criteria. These criteria imply that without a genetic study, unique genetic characteristics of a population are identified and conserved. Eco-geographical regions are also of great importance in assessing the status of species: a species may be abundant globally but rare within a given ecological region. Thus, lack of knowledge of eco-geographical zones can have a significant impact on conservation. We propose to study the genetic diversity of rare plants in the ecological region of the plain of St. Lawrence and of the Great Lakes (southern Quebec and Ontario). This ecological region is interesting as it may contain two historically distinct regions. These patterns are caused by the Appalachians that have served as a barrier to the migration following the last glaciations. If this pattern was widespread, it could lead to a redefinition of eco-geographical zones and could lead to some status changes for endangered species in these regions.
Multi-scalar governance of biodiversity
Louis Guay (Université Laval), Philippe Le Prestre (Université Laval), Jaye Ellis (McGill University), Pierre André (Université de Montréal),
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The effective management of biodiversity requires action at multiple scales. However, despite numerous calls for integrated and sustainable biodiversity planning, the multiplicity of levels of analysis and action as well as the nature and impacts of the interrelationships between these levels still present complex issues for the integrated governance of biodiversity. The object of this grant is a multidisciplinary research project aiming for the development of applied macro and micro theories that would allow, based on empirical evidence, to understand how micro level processes affect, even determine, structural changes, and inversely, how micro processes are built upon and constrained by structural components (with regard to were biodiversity policies, multiple levels of government and power are concerned). The implementation of biodiversity protection is none the less at the level of the states, federal and local agencies. In Quebec, land use and development plans are the principle tools for the management of occupied territories.
Genetic structure in populations of two coexisting mouse species in Southern Quebec – Effect of isolation and habitat fragmentation
Virginie Millien (McGill University), François-Joseph Lapointe (Université de Montréal),
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One of the most important consequences of climatic change is the increase in temperature, particularly in temperate regions. This change can dramatically impact the habitat of native species, which might then generate new environmental selective pressures that result in rapid and adaptive phenotypic change. At the same time, adaptive change might be constrained (or perhaps even facilitated) by gene flow across the landscape or by genetic drift in small populations, affecting in turn the distribution range of native species. We propose to study these potential effects by examining morphological and genetic variation in rodent populations of the genus Peromyscus in the Monteregian sky islands over the last 50years. Our project will enhance our knowledge of diversity pattern in a small mammal species in Quebec, both at the phenotypic and genetic levels.
Plant diversity of peatlands in Québec and ecological niches of vascular plants
Stéphanie Pellerin (Université de Montréal), Monique Poulin (Université Laval), Claude Lavoie (Université Laval),
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Researchers who have worked on peat land vegetation in Quebec have often characterized the environment where the vegetation surveys were made. For example, data on the water chemistry or levels of the water table often accompany date on plant species as well as the presence of local disturbances and of the surrounding landscape. Now we know well enough the ecological niches of mosses, including Sphagnum, characteristic of the peat lands. Similarly, a previous study has identified the ecological niches of Carex by combining different databases. However, no study has been published for the ecological niches of other vascular plants associated with peat lands. We propose to perform a meta-analysis using databases on peat land plant diversity which have been developed by several Quebec researchers.
Ecosystem services, biodiversity and forest fragmentation in the Montérégie
Elena Bennett (McGill University), Martin Lechowicz (McGill University), Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University),
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Provision of ecosystem services (ES) depends on a complex interplay of biodiversity, landscape structure, and human activity. However, our current understanding of the mechanisms behind the provision of many ES is still rudimentary. Incomplete knowledge of these relationships and their role in provision of ES has led to critical declines in some services. The successful management of current and future ES and biodiversity requires improved understanding of these relationships under realistic management schemes. Our team’s overall goal is to develop and empirically test a conceptual framework linking landscape structure, biodiversity and ES. This framework will then be used to create decision-making tools for local communities to facilitate the management of the landscape for multiple ES in the face of local, regional and global change.