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Food_Collage_1

The role of supermarkets in eating sustainably

April 21, 2019 —   Environmental sustainability may in part be achievable through a shift in diets from animal-based protein to alternatives sources of proteins such as plants, insects, and lab-grown meat. This is because animal-based proteins have been linked with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and higher agricultural resource use.   Although consumer trends reveal that animal-based protein sources are still very...

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How does forestry affect biodiversity? A case study of arthropods in Ontario’s Algonquin Park

April 13, 2019 —   Forestry is a global activity that can affect biodiversity through disturbance and fragmentation of habitats.  The phylum Arthropoda (e.g., insects, crustaceans, arachnids) represents a highly diverse taxon with species found in virtually all types of habitats including forests.  While there have been studies on the effects of forestry on arthropod diversity, important questions remain.   Smith et al. (2017)...

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Conserving plant biodiversity in a fragmented landscape

April 9, 2019 —   The Convention on Biological Diversity considers the creation of protected areas (PAs) as a key strategy in conserving biodiversity.  Higher species diversity in these areas may be a result of favourable management practices, such as minimizing disturbance and removal of invasive species, or a PA may have been selected in a location with a relatively high level of existing...

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Do pesticides in agricultural soils pose a risk to ground-nesting bees?

March 31, 2019 —   Around the world, insect pollinator populations have been in decline. Out of the multiple interacting environmental stressors contributing to decreases, use of pesticides on agricultural crops is near the top of the list.    In Ontario and globally, Curcubita crops (e.g., pumpkin and summer squash) are grown for their fruits. On conventional farms in Ontario, crops are treated with...

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World Water Day 3

World Water Day (March 22, 2019)

March 22, 2019 — By Harry Seely, BSc student Today we celebrate world water: we recognize the importance of the most fundamental molecular compound for life on our planet, one that defines every species, ecosystem and landscape.  While water is crucial for human health and is recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations, water is just as vital to every organism...

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Uses and challenges of eDNA-based monitoring

March 16, 2019 — The application of environmental DNA (eDNA) based monitoring could revolutionize biodiversity science and conservation. While traditional biomonitoring approaches typically depend on direct observation of targeted species (e.g., an invasive or endangered species), monitoring using eDNA relies instead on detecting the DNA shed by these same species into their environment. Basically, DNA contained in biological material such as sloughed skin cells,...

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Sparrow

Population dynamics of a little brown bird on the move

March 3, 2019 — Animal migrations are fascinating and awe-inspiring phenomena. Typically, these movements en masse cycle seasonally between breeding and wintering areas. From the point of view of biodiversity resilience and conservation efforts, migratory animals pose special problems due to their dependence on more than one habitat area. Woodworth et al. (2017) sought to clarify how a migratory species’ population growth rate may...

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Research to bring back the American chestnut

February 23, 2019 — The American chestnut (Castanea dentata), which could once reach massive proportions, was described by some as the redwood of the east. It was a common tree in southern Ontario that supported a multitude of other species, some of which were highly dependent on it such as the chestnut ermine moth and the American chestnut moth. The American chestnut also gave...

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D suzukii 2

Fruit flies, berries and climate change

February 17, 2019 — Climate change could facilitate the spread of invasive species by warming northern regions and making them suitable habitat for species that would otherwise be excluded due to cold temperatures. Langille et al. (2017) examined the prospect of this scenario playing out for an invasive species of fruit fly called the spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). Spotted wing drosophila is native...

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Women and Girls in Science

February 11, 2019 — By Harry Seely, BSc Student In 1903, the physicist Dr. Marie Curie became the first woman in history to win a Nobel Prize (in physics) for her pioneering research on radioactivity and went on to become one of the few people ever win a second Nobel Prize (in chemistry) later on in her career.  In 1953, Dr. Rosalind Franklin made...

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Pinpointing biomarkers of sea urchin health for aquaculture - a step toward sustainable harvesting

February 10, 2019 — Details on photo and microscope images at bottom of article. Sea urchins are members of the phylum Echinodermata, a taxonomic group that includes sea stars. Their shape is unlike that of sea stars however, as many species appear as hard, colourful balls covered in spines, bearing a resemblance to pin cushions. Amongst the spines and poking through their calcified outer...

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World Wetlands Day (February 2)

February 2, 2019 — By Harry Seely, BSc student   What are Wetlands? On February 2ndevery year we celebrate and acknowledge a hugely important ecosystem on our planet: wetlands.  Wetlands represent the bridge between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and permanently or intermittently contain an oversupply of water. Wetlands have been described as “strongholds of biodiversity” and while occupying only a small portion of the earth’s...

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Pumpkinseed sunfish-1

Brain like a pumpkinseed

January 20, 2019 — There are over 30,000 species of marine and freshwater fish on the planet that can be found in a vast array of different habitats. Within this diversity of species there is a variety of brain sizes and this is observed even when body size is taken into account. If there is a link between brain size and cognitive capacity, could...

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Blue cardinal flowers

Female and hermaphroditic blue cardinal flowers (Lobelia siphilitica)

January 4, 2019 — Photo of blue cardinal flower (cropped version shown) by: Agnieszka Kwiecien, Nova (CC BY-SA 03)    Plants exhibit a wide variety of reproductive systems. A relatively small proportion of species are gynodioecious, meaning individual plants can produce either female or hermaphroditic flowers. In this system, females require pollen from a hermaphrodite to reproduce while the hermaphrodite can pollinate and reproduce...

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Bythotrephes longimanus and water

Possible mechanisms of invasion by the spiny waterflea

December 21, 2018 — Species transported outside of their natural range to sometimes far-flung locations across the globe have earned them the label of “exotic species”. A minority of exotic species will spread and disrupt ecosystems in their new home thereby becoming “invasive species”. Transitioning from exotic to invasive depends on a species’ ability to survive and thrive in a new environment and the...

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Swedish mountains

International Mountain Day - December 11

December 11, 2018 — In 2003, the United Nations designated December 11 of every year as International Mountain Day. Mountains are important for many reasons, such as being home to about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and 25% of all terrestrial biodiversity. Members of the Biodiversity Resilience Network including Dr. Alex Smith, Dr. Andrew MacDougall, Bernal Arce, Dr. Brian Husband, and Dr. Ellen...

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Zebrafish embryos

Cell protection in early life

December 7, 2018 —   Life processes occur at scales ranging from very small (e.g., enzyme activity) to very large (e.g., ocean nutrient cycling) and biodiversity can ultimately be affected by processses occurring at any scale. In a study by Alderman et al. (2018) they looked at the effects of physiological stress on cells, in other words, processes that take place at the small...

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Arbuscular mycchorizae

Can colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizae facilitate co-existence among plant species?

November 24, 2018 — Fungi known as arbuscular mycorrhizae form symbiotic relationships with about 73% of all vascular plant species. In this relationship, the mycorrhizae facilitate uptake of nutrients into plant roots in exchange for sugars produced by the plant via photosynthesis. Although mycorrhizal symbiosis has been shown to increase the species diversity of plant communities, individual plant species differ in the extent to...

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Monarch butterfly adult

Monarch butterfly egg-laying behaviour: implications for restoration

November 16, 2018 —   To a monarch butterfly You who go through the daylike a winged tigerburning as you flytell me what supernatural lifeis painted on your wingsso that after this lifeI may see you in my night -Homero Aridjis (Translated by George McWhirter)   The monarch butterfly (Ascelpias syriaca) is loved by many across North America, so much so as to inspire...

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Destruction of the environment in war

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

November 6, 2018 — (External News) In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly marked November 6 of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Although we are all aware of the devastating toll war has on people, communities, and countries, its destructive impact on the environment is less widely recognized. According to the...

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Food collage

Is global food production meeting the world's nutritional needs?

November 3, 2018 — According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there is currently enough food to satisfy the caloric intake of everyone on the planet. What has not been carefully explored until recently however, is whether global food production can meet the world’s nutritional requirements now and into the future when the global population is projected to be 9.8 billion...

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Food web diagram and fish

Linking humans to food webs

October 10, 2018 — Although fisheries have a huge impact on ecosystems and food webs, human behaviour as expressed thru fisheries practices have rarely been explicitly linked to food webs in fishery studies. Whereas aquatic food webs would normally include various species of fish, aquatic insects, and plant life, a so-called “fishery food web” would be similar with the added twist of human fishers...

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National Tree Day 2018

National Tree Day

September 24, 2018 — (External News) National Tree Day has been happening on the third Wednesday of September during National Forest Week ever since 2011. Tree Canada, a registered charity dedicated to planting and nurturing trees, was instrumental in establishing a Tree Day in Canada. The challenge posed by the charity this year is to plant more than 4,000 trees in five urban spaces...

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Fish at market, sushi, and fishing boat

Seafood fraud

August 30, 2018 — Oceana, an international ocean advocacy group with an office in Toronto, Canada,  recently released a report that tested for seafood fraud in five Canadian cities. Seafood fraud can adversely affect human health, economies, human rights, and ocean ecosystems.  Of the 382 fish samples collected from 177 retailers and restautrants, 44% of samples were mislabelled and 100% of ‘snapper’ were mislabelled. ...

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Soil and plant

Validating a method for detecting genes involved in soil phosphorus cycling

August 11, 2018 — Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants to survive however, most of the phosphorus in soils (up to 65%) is in an organic form which plants are not able to assimilate. A group of enzymes termed non-specific acid phosphatases (NSAPs) can convert organic phosphorus to an inorganic form such as phosphate, a process called mineralization. There are different types of...

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Fish heart ventricle and walleye

Linking heart size and feeding habits in wild fish: A possible mechanism for ecosystem stability

August 1, 2018 — The stability and persistence of species assemblages that exist in ecosystems rely in part on balanced population densities, in other words, the absence of any one species occurring at very high or very low numbers. Ecosystem stability risks disruption in either of these scenarios due to extinctions, whether it be on a local or larger scale. The relationships and interactions...

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CSEE2018

BiRN at the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution 2018 Meeting

July 24, 2018 —   BiRN members were present in full force at this year’s conference of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution which took place from July 18 to 21, 2018 at the University of Guelph. Dr. Andrew MacDougall, conference chair, along with a core team of almost 30 students, faculty, and post-doctoral fellows worked countless hours for over a year to...

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Bob Hanner, Merritt Turetsky, Kevin McCann

BiRN members present at Arrell Food Summit

June 12, 2018 — The Arrell Food Summit hosted by the Arrell Food Institute of the University of Guelph took place May 22-24, 2018.  The summit presented 'an opportunity to celebrate innovation in agriculture and food' (Arrell Food Institute). Drs. Robert Hanner, Merritt Turetsky, and Kevin McCann, along with four other presenters, each gave brief presentations at Guelph Talks Food, a TED-Talks inspired event...

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Lichens on tree by Jocelyn Kelly

Lichen diversity in city parks

June 7, 2018 — Lichens are among some of the most fascinating and often overlooked and undervalued organisms of our natural communities.  They emerge from a mutualistic relationship between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism, either a cyanobacterium or alga.    Most of us are familiar with the sight of lichens growing on the surface of rocks, trees and wood, however there are likely...

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Lake Trout by Tim Bartley

Assessing ecological integrity

June 3, 2018 — The integrity of ecosystems has been a focal point for environmental scientists and managers for the past 50 years.  'Ecosystem integrity’ can be thought of as the ability of an ecosystem to support and maintain ecological processes (such as the water cycle) as well as a diversity of living organisms.  When an ecosystem’s integrity is diminished, the capacity of that...

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International Day for Biological Diveristy - May 22

International Day for Biological Diversity

May 22, 2018 — (External News) Today is for celebrating the beauty and wonder of nature, and all the people working hard to safeguard it.  The Convention on Biological Diversity celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and while much progress has been made, there is still much to do.  Let innovation and creativity inspire our solutions and practical ideas to safeguard life on Earth. ...

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Planet Earth, Dr. Paul Hebert, DNA strand

International honour to DNA barcoding scientist

April 26, 2018 — A top international honour which has never before been granted to a Canadian will be awarded to Dr. Paul Hebert of the University of Guelph this year.  The Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences is awarded every two years by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been in existence since 1990. Dr. Hebert is a...

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Strands of DNA

Exploring nature's genetic diversity

April 22, 2018 —     Dr. Vasco Elbrecht and Dr. Dirk Steinke at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph, along with their collaborators based in Germany, recently completed a study where they developed a strategy for examining the genetic diversity that exists within individual species detected in environmental samples containing many species. In their study, they drew on a technique called DNA...

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Lake in Algonquin Park taken by Aleksandra Dolezal

Fish diversity in Ontario lakes

April 5, 2018 —   A recent study published in Nature Communications examined factors that could be influencing the diversity of fish species in over 700 Ontario lakes.  One of the main findings was that predatory fish and their prey fish species are able to co-exist and rarely "forbid" one another from lakes. In other words, the pressure of predation is not usually sufficient...

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Fungus, rhinoceros, jellyfish, and snow covered trees

Dangerous declines in biodiversity continue globally

March 26, 2018 — (External News) An assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services in four regions of the world:  the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, as well as Europe and Central Asia, revealed that biodiversity and nature’s capacity to contribute to human life are suffering degradations, reductions, and loss.  Some key stressors impacting natural systems include overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources,...

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Biodiversity News- Declining insect populations in Germany

Declining insect populations in Germany

October 19, 2017 — (External News) A new study released in PLOS ONE indicates that populations of insects in German nature reserves have declined by more than 75% in 27 years. Factors driving the dramatic loss are not yet clear. Scientists are speculating however, that intensive agriculture has played a role. Read Article (click her for full article)

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Research Spotlight: Neonicotinoids found in honey around the world

Neonicotinoids found in honey around the world

October 10, 2017 — Researchers analyzed honey collected from almost 200 sites on all continents except Antarctica and found that 75% of samples contained some level of neonicotinoids.  Exposure of bees to this pesticide has been suggested by some studies to have negative effects on brain functioning and survival, among other possible impacts. Whether or not these pesticides are detrimental to the health of...

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Lake erie sept

Lake Erie bright green for miles

October 6, 2017 — (External News) Algal blooms in Lake Erie have been a concern since the 2000s. The blooms are made up of cyanobacteria, an algae that has the potential to produce toxins that can pollute drinking water and harm local ecosystems. Last week, officials reported a 700 square mile (or 1,813 square km) bright green bloom in the lake’s western basin. This...

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Bumble bee on pink flower photo by Aleksandra Dolezal

Neonics Put Bumblebees at Risk of Extinction, Study Reveals

August 23, 2017 — Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study. Prof. Nigel Raine has discovered that exposure to thiamethoxam reduces the chances of a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than one-quarter. Read More (click here for full article)

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Recent News: Ontario’s Chestnut Trees ‘Frozen in Time,’ Study Finds

Ontario’s Chestnut Trees ‘Frozen in Time,’ Study Finds

August 23, 2017 — It once dominated the forests of eastern North America, but the American chestnut was nearly wiped out during the past century by a devastating fungal disease. Now a new survey by University of Guelph researchers offers a bit of hope for the survival – and perhaps the ultimate recovery — of this native tree in southwestern Ontario. In results published...

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Tonle_Sap

Tonle Sap Lake at Point of No Return?

June 8, 2017 — Cambodia’s most important ecosystem is in crisis, experts say. Millions rely on the Tonle Sap Lake for food and irrigation, and its destruction would have repercussions across the globe. Read more on the Tonle Sap Lake by clicking on the link below. Read More (click here for full article)

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mussels

Mollusks under threat in Kitchener region

May 2, 2017 — (External News) At the Biodiversity Resilience Network, we look at how ecosystems fight back, or fail to fight back, against environmental impacts. Currently, mollusks in local water bodies in the Kitchener-Waterloo area are being affected by increased water toxicity, which could very well have an impact on mollusks’ ability to reproduce into the future. The mollusk is a vital organism...

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earth

A Mission for Planetary Diversity

May 2, 2017 — A recent talk by University of Guelph researcher, Paul Hebert, called “A Mission for Planetary Diversity”. The talk occured at the Starmus festival in Trondheim in front of an audience of three thousand people, and touched on many urgent biodiversity issues related to our initiative. Hebert is a professor at the University of Guelph and collaborator with the Biodiversity Resilience...

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Nature

Living on the Precipice Resilience Conference (UWaterloo Conference)

April 19, 2017 — From May 16 to May 17, 2017, the University of Waterloo will host “Living on the Precipice: Interdisciplinary Conference on Resilience in Complex Natural and Human Systems”. Alan Hastings (Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis), will give the keynote address and some of our own resilience network (Madhur Anand, John Fryxell) will be giving talks. View...

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