The Biological Survey of Canada (BSC) is a not-for-profit organization that helps to coordinate scientific research among specialists on the Canadian fauna. The BSC network of scientists discovers, synthesizes, and freely shares knowledge about Canada’s biological diversity. The BSC has been very successful over the years, and is productive and well recognized nationally and internationally in the scientific community. This page provides background information about the BSC and its work.
The objectives of the BSC are:
- Discover, survey, and inventory Canada’s biological diversity and provide universal access to biodiversity information;
- Detect, measure, and predict changes in Canadian biological diversity, and provide science-based advice for sustaining native biodiversity in Canadian ecosystems;
- Promote the importance of fundamental taxonomic research on Canadian species and provide access to expertise on Canadian biodiversity;
- Promote awareness of the values and vulnerabilities of Canada’s biological diversity by inspiring, educating, and engaging Canadians.
of the BSC
The Biological Survey of Canada facilitates research and dissemination of knowledge of Canada’s biodiversity. This mandate is fulfilled by:
-facilitating and coordinating project-based research
-coordinating production of publications that characterize the Canadian biota.
Information on specific projects and publications can be found throughout this web site. Topics that help to interpret the nature or development of the Canadian fauna are of special interest to the BSC. Such topics focus on particularly significant regions, or kinds of animals, or subjects. For example, the Arctic is among the most fragile ecosystems on Earth; it is also under immense environmental pressure as the effects of global warming are felt most acutely at northern latitudes. With their diversity and potential for rapid population growth, arthropods can serve as barometers of environmental change. Forests, springs and other habitats are characteristic and informative.
The BSC also acts as a clearing-house or coordinating office, through
current knowledge of relevant
people and their individual projects, and other
information. A newsletter is produced twice per year. A list of requests for cooperation, which encourages the exchange of information and specimens from locations across the country, is maintained on this web site. An electronic mailing list is maintained to facilitate communication between researchers who are interested in the Canadian arthropod fauna.
Organization of the BSC
The BSC is a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization managed by a board of directors. BSC projects and activities are carried out by the membership in collaboration with the greater scientific community, federal and provincial government departments and museums, academic institutions, and concerned citizens.
Membership in the BSC is free and open to those who are interested in Canada's biodiversity, particularly with respect to the arthropods. All are welcome to join, and membership includes receipt of the newsletter twice per year, and voting rights at the annual AGM. All members are encouraged to become actively involved in BSC projects, or to run for the positions on the Board of Directors.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the BSC, please send an email to BiologicalSurvey@gmail.com giving your contact information, as well as a brief statement of your biodiversity interests.
Annual general membership meetings are held in conjunction with the annual Entomological Society of Canada meetings. The next AGM will be held in Edmonton in 2012.
General strengths of the BSC
Wide outreach. The BSC is national in scope, and involves many people. Whereas individual scientists or organizations may have a limited geographic, taxonomic or programmatic terms of reference, BSC projects attain a scope that would not have developed or been possible otherwise. Major scientific projects and reviews are a uniting force and bring attention to the BSC.
Experience and history. Members of the BSC have a long history of undertaking collaborative field expeditions to study Canada’s biodiversity, and of documenting biological diversity.
Focus on key scientific themes. Scientific expertise in the areas of systematics and ecology in Canada is small and scattered. The BSC helps to focus that expertise. The BSC uses a bottom-up approach to ensure that specific outputs are useful scientifically. The focus is on science and how to ensure quality knowledge of the fauna. National scientific priorities are set by a careful choice of projects, not just what comes to hand.
Focus on products that are of use to others, especially integrative works which are especially valuable. BSC publications are used by a wide audience such as managers or biologists charged with local biodiversity assessments, students, scientists, etc. Many past products and most future ones are freely available online.
The BSC produces many publications and other outputs (documented in detail on the Publication Summary page). Since 1981 (when its early contract-supported stages ended), in the scientific arena the BSC produced 13 major books (averaging 312 pp. each, and many containing multiple refereed chapters) and 64 additional papers as well as 16 briefs. Moreover, it contributed to or stimulated many other papers not so directly produced by the Survey. The quality of these publications is high as confirmed by reviews and other commentaries.
In a more general context, the BSC has published 85 newsletters to date (averaging 77 pp. per year), convened 17 symposia or workshops, and prepared numerous reports and letters to officials. The extensive web site currently contains about 1½ million words, including scientific and other documents.
The number of major publications fluctuates from year to year because BSC projects characteristically produce large publications at infrequent intervals in addition to the ongoing production of smaller documents.
The BSC has had great influence on the direction and quality of Canadian entomology. The BSC identifies gaps in knowledge at a national level and its projects draw in participants, thereby attaining a scope that would not be possible otherwise, especially given current limitations in the country in scientific expertise for systematics and ecology. The BSC’s interests are integrated nationally with those of the ESC. The work of synthesis of knowledge has led to the production of four major books by the Survey, as well as many shorter publications. A number of long-term scientific projects focus active efforts on key topics, and have begun where existing interest or resources made them feasible, or where interest was generated by Survey initiatives. Results from several projects have already been published. Moreover, numerous graduate students have been steered towards BSC projects and carry on these interests later.
The BSC’s briefs are widely used and influence the way that research is done. They also address matters of general concern to biologists, both through liaison with responsible agencies and by producing appropriate commentaries. For example, briefs or reports about insect collections, standards for label data, environmental impact, long-term monitoring, climatic change, arctic studies, spring faunas, ectoparasites of vertebrates, procedures for biodiversity studies and other topics have been produced. The BSC briefs are also used by wider audiences, such as managers or biologists charged with local biodiversity assessments, and its web site has a very wide reach, extending well beyond entomologists.
History of the BSC
The Biological Survey was started in 1977 as a Pilot Study (through an unsolicited proposal to the Department of Supply and Services) by the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC). After a series of contracts - including one primarily for production of a book about the insects of the arctic - the Survey was established in 1980 at the Canadian Museum of Nature (at that time called the National Museum of Natural Sciences) under a continuing partnership with the ESC. In 2009 the BSC became a not-for-profit corporation in anticipation of reduced financial support from the Canadian Museum of Nature. The BSC’s ties with the ESC remain very important as the BSC’s current and future work will have a strong entomological component.
Biological Survey Foundation
The Biological Survey Foundation exists to help develop and fund selected publications of the Biological Survey and to ensure that they become widely available. The Foundation is registered as a charitable organization by the Canada Revenue Agency, and from time to time solicits donations for certain proposed publications. Publications are also funded by sales of previous publications, interest earned on investments built up through earlier activities, and publication fees such as page charges. For further information about donations (for which tax receipts are issued to individuals), contact the Secretary-Treasurer, P. Bouchard
The Foundation has published items relevant to the fauna of Canada in three series: a Monograph Series of major works (e.g. Insect Dormancy, Insects of the Yukon); a Taxonomic Series (keys to families of terrestrial arthropods in Canada); and a Document Series of miscellaneous publications (certain briefs, bibliographies, etc.). It also supports the electronic Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification
The Biological Survey Foundation is administered by 6 Directors drawn from its membership. The Directors currently are J.D. Shorthouse (President), P. Bouchard (Secretary-Treasurer), D.J. Giberson, S.A. Marshall, T. Galloway and D. McCorquodale.