Welcome to The Biodiversity Resilience Network

Our mission is to drive the scientific advances needed to understand and protect biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in a rapidly changing world. 

Background

The University of Guelph has developed a stronghold in biodiversity, from DNA barcoding and organismal physiology to whole ecosystem processes. The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario  at the University of Guelph is a world leader in developing barcoding as a technique to catalog global biodiversity. However, biodiversity, like any system, is more than the parts themselves, and the maintenance of biodiversity and its functions depends intimately on the structure of all its components or "biostructure".  More specifically, biostructure is the structure behind biodiversity that arises at all levels of biological organization including genetic structure, population structure, community structure, spatial structure, and food web/ecosystem structure.

The Biodiversity Resilience Network [BiRN] is a group of researchers that collectively seek to understand how global change is impacting the underlying biostructure across all levels organization, as it is this biostructure that maintains the resilience of the ecosystem functions we rely on.

The network was established in fall 2017 and is currently in the development phase. Its main focus is to promote collaborative research projects among scientists at the University of Guelph in the areas of DNA, physiology, behaviour, populations, communities, and whole biogeochemical cycles as well as socioeconomic considerations.

 

 

Biodiversity: the variety of living organisms, from genes to species through to broader scales such as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Resilience: the capacity of a population/community of organisms or an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly.

Research Overview

The BiRN group comprises a number of researchers collectively attacking various problems. For individual research initiatives please see the People and Research Spotlight pages.  Described below is one of the main ongoing collaborative projects involving multiple BiRN members.


Food from Thought

In 2014, the World Resources Institute Report (WRIR) pointed out that the rising population, projected to be 9.6 billion people by 2050, demands that society find the solution to the simultaneous “balancing act” of three central global problems: (i) society must produce far more food, and quickly (the agricultural problem); (ii) society must provide economic opportunities for the hundreds of millions of rural poor (the socio-economic problem), and; (iii) society must reduce environmental impacts, including ecosystem degradation, nutrient imbalances, and high greenhouse gas emissions. (the ecological problem).  The nature of these three central problems is that they are embedded within one another such that solutions require simultaneous consideration by a multi-disciplinary group. In the next 7 years, the Biodiversity Resilience Network (BiRN), one axis of the Food for Thought (FFT) research team, seeks to develop greater understanding of the trade-offs, and therefore potential solutions, to these critical global problems.

This $77 million initiative by the University of Guelph, which seeks to understand how food production can be both productive and sustainable, is directed at creating precision agriculture that efficiently uses nutrients and land. By sustainable, we mean that the development of food security is done in a manner that does not impede or harm biodiversity and associated ecosystem services on farms and in adjacent aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.  This research includes over 25 BiRN principal investigators and we will look to draw on even more funding to push this globally important food security initiative forward. This research also importantly includes collaboration with over 50 people on campus from various backgrounds, simultaneously looking at the agricultural, economic and ecological problem. See the Food Institute at the University of Guelph for further information on the other aspects of this research.

 

Research Spotlight

  

Lab_procedures

Taking biodiversity monitoring to the next level: Environmental DNA as a predictor of aquatic organism abundance

January 11, 2019 — Taking biodiversity monitoring to the next level: Environmental DNA as a predictor of aquatic organism abundance January 11, 2019 By Danielle Bourque, M.Sc. Student Left photo: For this experiment, it is important to prevent the target organism, Daphnia magna, from landing on the environmental DNA (eDNA) capture filter. Here, Limnotron water samples are vacuum filtered initially  through a 40 micron mesh to remove D. magna and their eggs from the...

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Freshwater mussels

Keeping an eye on freshwater mussels

December 3, 2018 — Spending their life either buried in the mud of river, lake, and pond beds, or as tiny young attached to fish, freshwater mussels can easily go unnoticed. Dr. Ryan Prosser and his research team at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences however, are hoping to draw attention to these amazing organisms and the challenges they face in Ontario...

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Whitemans Creek Research

Groundwater research and ecohydrology - Jana Levison

July 9, 2018 — Human interactions with the environment include effects on the 'water balance' which can be described as the balance between quantities of water that enter and leave a system. Dr. Jana Levison and her team in the Department of Engineering at the University of Guelph study water balances with a specific focus on groundwater dynamics and ecohydrology. A system that they...

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