Newsletter of the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods)

Volume 17 No. 2, Fall 1998


 

News and Notes

 

General information and editorial notes

News and Notes
Update on the BSC Web Page
Insects of Canada on the Web
Summary of the Scientific committee meeting
Membership of the Scientific Committee

The Carmanah Canopy Project: Conservation of Arthropod Biodiversity in Coastal Sitka Spruce Forests

Project Update: Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands
Aculeate Wasps from CFB Suffield

The Quiz Page

Recent Publications associated with the Biological Survey

Selected Future Conferences

Quips and Quotes

Requests for Material or Information Invited

Request for Cooperation

Summary of a meeting of the Scientific Committee for the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), April 1998

Scientific projects

1. Yukon project
Dr. Danks reported that sales of the book Insects of the Yukon were modest but steady. Sales may have been reduced somewhat because authors were given reprints and copies of the book to ensure that the knowledge was disseminated fully. The book had been widely publicized, through mailed publicity flyers, internet publicity and order form and notifications in newsletters. Flyers were also made available at various meetings. Several reviews are being solicited and copies of the book have been sent for review to journals. A press release was distributed across the country through the CMN, which led to radio interviews and to an article in the Globe & Mail. However, this article in a national newspaper did not appear to have significantly enhanced sales, a fact that underscores the difficulty of selling a specialized volume such as the Yukon book. The Committee discussed other possible publicity avenues and the possibility will be followed up that support might come from organizations that provide materials to Russia to enhance abilities to do scientific work there.

2. Grasslands
Dr. A.T. Finnamore reminded the Committee that field collecting for the grasslands project is being done by Dr. Finnamore, Dr. G.G.E. Scudder and Dr. R.E. Roughley. He reviewed some initial results from matched plots, using a statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples to generate statistics of great potential interest about the number of rare species in the system. The organization of a publication on grasslands was also discussed. It will be important for the Biological Survey to incorporate ecological data into this project, leading to a specific scientific project rather than a general investigation. Dr. Finnamore concluded that if the management potential for arthropods can be demonstrated using such an approach it will help to promote the Biological Survey and to ensure that arthropods are included in biomonitoring projects across the country. It is important to show how the data can be used; the power of the systematics community can be used to bring in big datasets. The priority this year will be contacting authors for the grasslands publication.

3. Arctic invertebrate biology
Dr. R.A. Ring reported that he continues to collaborate with various people, e.g. the ITEX program, and other collaborators are working on arctic themes including Dr. O. Kukal, Dr. H.V. Danks and Dr. D. Levin. In the year 2000 the triennial symposium on insect and plant cold hardiness will be held at the University of Victoria. The newsletter Arctic Insect News continues to attract international attention and to be well received. However funding for arctic work is limited (despite a helpful increase in support to the Polar Continental Shelf Project). In response to questions, Dr. Ring said that although the territorial governments take an interest in the work being done (as evidenced by the number of permits required) he has not yet learned of funding from this source. Some other funding possibilities were considered. Dr. T.A. Wheeler stated that McGill University is currently reviewing its policy on field stations, including the subarctic research station at Schefferville and the high arctic station on Axel Heiberg Island. Large-scale infrastructure money is being sought to upgrade all of the stations. There is a chance that the research station facilities at Schefferville and Axel Heiberg will be greatly improved in the next few years.

Other scientific priorities

1. Arthropod fauna of soils
Dr. Behan-Pelletier reminded the Committee about the meta-project database of ecology research projects (DERP) (see Newsletter 17(1): 14-15). This will be a valuable tool to pool data on the various soil projects. It is hoped to have the database finalized and ready for data input by the end of May. The project will be presented at a GIS conference in Ottawa in June and also at the Ecological Society of America meeting in August.
Dr. Behan-Pelletier reported on an initiative to produce a report on the status of biodiversity in Canadian agricultural soils that will be presented at the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). The report is currently in the planning stages and once a framework is established it will be sent to everyone across Canada involved in soil biodiversity. The report is due by the end of 1998.
The 10th International Acarological Congress will be held this summer in Canberra, Australia. Dr. Behan-Pelletier reviewed various relevant publications, and other activities of interest, including the retirement of Dr. Dac Crossley Jr. with a symposium on research.

2. Old-growth forests
The Committee noted that there is considerable activity and good work in old-growth forests and considered the feasibility of capitalizing on the work by producing a synthesis, for which some sort of specific focus is required. A subcommittee (chaired by Dr. G.G.E. Scudder) was charged with developing these ideas further, for a possible future workshop at the 1999 EMAN national meeting (Victoria) or a symposium at the ESC meeting, for example, and a publication.

3. Invasions and reductions
Dr. S.A. Marshall suggested that it was time for the Survey to coalesce its interests in this subject and plan a workshop or symposium on invasions and reductions in the Canadian arthropod fauna. He proposed that the Survey hold a symposium at the EMAN national meeting in 2000 when there is the possibility of support for participants, with a publication to follow. A subcommittee will draw up a list of people to be invited. Progress will be reported at the next Committee meeting.

4. Survey project on faunal analysis and gaps in expertise
Dr. J. Huber reported that he and Dr. R.S. Anderson have contacted a number of people willing to assemble data for this project for their taxa of expertise, covering all of the groups of insects. The final protocol will be distributed, and data received, over the next six months. Ultimately the data will be put onto an updatable web site. The project is intended to lead to verified information about the numbers of species and taxonomic expertise; and to Survey documents developed from that information to help lobby for more taxonomic resources.

5. Survey publicity
Dr. Danks reported on the Survey’s poster prepared for the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network national meeting at Charlevoix in January 1998. Its preparation had been complicated by several events, including the January ice storm. The poster was accompanied at the EMAN meeting by publicity materials on the Survey and its publications. Unfortunately, the poster session there was not well situated, but the poster will be available for use at future meetings. It was agreed to investigate the possibility of producing additional posters for wider use.
Dr. Shorthouse reported that he has been attempting to put together a series of transparencies that illustrate the work of the members of the Biological Survey that could be used to illustrate relevant presentations.

6. Monitoring of continuing priorities for work on the Canadian fauna
Information relevant to existing, but no longer fully active, Survey projects was reviewed, including information about arthropods of peatlands, arthropods of springs, arthropods of large rivers, arthropod ectoparasites of vertebrates, arthropods of the Queen Charlotte Islands, arthropods of caves and alvars, long-term research, environmental appraisal and agroecosystems.

7. Other priorities
The Committee reviewed information about other matters of concern, including endangered species, funding for biodiversity projects and error rates in identifications.

Liaison and exchange of information

1. Canadian Museum of Nature
Dr. Mark Graham, Director of Research, reported that since the October meeting of the Committee the Museum had undertaken a corporate strategy that involved consultations with many groups across the country, including some of the members of the Committee. The results have been analyzed and the final report containing the Museum’s objectives and the framework for work planning and budgeting over the next several years is being prepared. The four main themes that emerged were: 1) to increase national service and impact; 2) to make the work of the Museum more visible and available; 3) to implement some basic operating systems; and 4) to increase self-generated revenues. The Federal Biosystematics Partnership is updating its memorandum of understanding which serves as the group’s operating procedures. The Federal Biosystematics Partnership has held discussions with NSERC to determine what sort of support is available to fund graduate students working in biosystematics, and the Committee agreed to help in this initiative. The Museum is also a partner in the second year of the Canadian Biodiversity Infrastructure Initiative. This year some pilot projects will be implemented within the project. The Biodiversity and Systematics school will be held for the third year this summer in conjunction with Queen’s University. The Museum has hired a new research scientist, Dr. Michael Caldwell, an expert in mesozoic reptiles. Dr. André Martel has accepted the position of assistant director at Bamfield Marine Research Station, a position jointly funded by the CMN and the Bamfield Station. The Museum’s Collection Division is now implementing its collections management information system. A software package, Multi-MIMSY, has been purchased and installed. Long-range planning is underway for the Museum’s main display building, the Victoria Memorial Museum Building. As part of that effort there will be updates to the current arctic exhibit as well as a travelling exhibit on the arctic.

2. Biological Resources Program, ECORC
Dr. Behan-Pelletier, BRP, on behalf of Dr. J. McKenzie, confirmed that the MOU for the Federal Biosystematics Partnership will soon be sent to Agriculture’s Assistant Deputy Minister for endorsement. She emphasized that the objective of the MOU is to recognize that the Federal Biosystematics Partnership is primarily to undertake collaborative endeavours including but not limited to taxonomic research and to ensure that the importance of biosystematics is recognized, emphasized and supported in Canada. A request has also been sent to Agriculture’s ADM from the Biological Resources Program to sign an MOU with the U.S. National Biological Service to participate in the development and maintenance of the North American Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). ITIS is a result of a partnership of U.S. federal agencies, which was formed to satisfy their needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information and common authoritative nomenclature for all North American species. The ECORC web site [http://res.agr.ca/ecorc/crop2.htm] has a series of web pages on many of BRP’s systematic studies. Dr. Peter Mason (formerly of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon) has recently been hired at ECORC and is working in the entomology group with Dr. Jim O’Hara. Dr. Mason will be continuing his research in biological control. Dr. Behan-Pelletier reported a 20% increase in BRP’s operating budget this year. Partly as a result of this, Dr. Gary Gibson will be able to go on a work transfer to CSIRO in Australia.

3. Entomological Society of Canada
Dr. Hugh Danks, President, ESC, reminded the Committee that the Society has undergone a number of major changes in the past year as a result of decisions made following a major Strategic Review. For example, the change over of the Society’s procedures for scientific publishing is now complete. As a result the Society is in a position to save considerable money in this fiscal year. The last volume of the Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada (no. 171) - now discontinued - was published late in 1997. Substantial changes in Society committees and Society rules and guidelines had also stemmed from the Strategic Review. Dr. Danks confirmed recent changes in two very important positions within the Society. The new Scientific Editor responsible for The Canadian Entomologist is Dr. Jean Turgeon and the new Secretary of the Society is Dr. Rick West. Dr. Danks explained that other progress with Society affairs will be made when the ESC Executive Council holds its mid-term meeting.

4. Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network
Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette reported that the EMAN national meeting was held in Charlevoix, Quebec in January. Attendance was down somewhat this year (approximately 200) but more people left the meeting with a better knowledge of the direction EMAN is taking. The location of the poster session was poor (the Biological Survey had a poster at the meeting) but next year’s session promises to be better organized. Presentations were made by some of the members of the Committee. Dr. A.T. Finnamore was presented with the Patricia Roberts-Pichette award. The next EMAN national meeting will be held in Victoria during the third week of January 1999. The arthropod working group has completed its protocol report outlining the minimum needs for monitoring — the protocols are not meant to hamper research or necessarily to replace required methods but if there is no particular reason to use other methods then it would be useful to adopt the EMAN protocols.

5. Canada/MAB
Dr. Roberts-Pichette, Executive Secretary Canada/MAB, reported that the MAB committee met for the first time in five years last January. There is active work on the issue of biosphere reserves. The biosphere reserves have formed into a non-profit association - the Canadian Biospheres Reserves Association. Recognition is pending for three reserves – Clayoquot Sound and Mount Arrowsmith (BC) and Kejimukujik National Park (NS). Dr. Roberts-Pichette also reported briefly on other initiatives.

6. Canadian Forest Service
Dr. J. Huber, on behalf of Dr. Ben Moody, reminded the Committee that the Canadian Forest Service has set up a Biosystematics Working Group to look at the needs in forestry for systematics. The first meeting held in March was attended by representatives of the forest regional collections (except for the Newfoundland collection which lacks a curator). The group has been charged with doing an assessment of taxonomic needs in forestry for the next 2-5 years, including a thorough evaluation of the existing systematic collections and resources and the directions of work. Dr. Huber noted that a number of relevant people have retired or will soon be retiring. Examples are also being found of how the various Canadian Forest Service collections have been used to solve particular problems or address particular issues, so helping promote the use of Forestry’s collections. Dr. Huber mentioned that the Canadian Forest Service intends to support the MOU put forward by the Federal Biosystematics Partnership.

7. Parasitology module, Canadian Society of Zoologists
Dr. D. Marcogliese reported that the perch project is ongoing and the stickleback project has been received enthusiastically by both parasitologists and non-parasitologists. The parasitology module is also developing the EMAN protocols for inventorying parasites. The Directory of Parasitologists is now on the web and continues to be updated in that format [http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/parasites/module.htm]. A hard copy will not be produced again. Dr. Marcogliese also reported on some other publications, funding and initiatives of interest to the Committee. He commented that the Biodiversity Convention Office once again has a biofund. However, funds appear to be available only to the Canadian Wildlife Service, an instance where again the CWS has control at the expense of Canada’s effort in biodiversity.

Secretariat activities

Ongoing operations of the Biological Survey Secretariat were reviewed, including clearing house and coordination roles, research and other items, and Dr. H.V. Danks’ travels to entomological centres on behalf of the Survey to exchange information about relevant work. In 1997 – 1998, visits were made to Victoria, B.C.; Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Guelph and Toronto, Ontario; Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, and St. John’s, Newfoundland. Seminars and lectures presented, in addition to more-or-less informal treatments of the Biological Survey, included: Insect life cycles: ways to study their diversity, control and evolution; Spring habitats and their faunas; Ranges of insects in the Yukon and their Beringian history; Arctic insects as indicators of climatic change; The diversity, evolution and analysis of diapause and allied responses in insects.

Other items

1. Reports on regional developments of potential interest
Members of the Committee summarized relevant information from different regions of the country. For example, in British Columbia a successful first annual University of Victoria invertebrate symposium was held. Various studies by graduate students and others were outlined. Several other important workshops or symposia were noted, such as those on “Structure, processes and diversity in successional forests of coastal British Columbia”, on “Frontiers in Forestry”, and on biodiversity in the south Okanagan (at the Canadian Society of Zoologists’ meeting). The University of British Columbia has announced that there will be no new or replacement positions until 2000. Many retirements are forecast over the next few years, apparently without replacements. Some problems continue with FRBC funding, creating difficulties for multi-year projects. The first draft for a publication on the Butterflies of British Columbia has been completed for possible publication in the year 2000.
On the prairies, there are plans for a Prairie Ecozone assessment, which is a follow up from the Mixedwood Plains and the Montane Cordillera assessments. The Provincial Museum of Alberta has plans for a very large expansion. Biodiversity monitoring in forestry has become a high profile issue in Alberta, as evidenced by workshops for example. A North American Livestock Workers Conference will be held in June in Alberta. A rangeland ecology group with federal and provincial agriculture departments and other partners has been established. Dr. Rob Bourchier has been hired to work in weed biocontrol at the Lethbridge Research Centre, and the Centre is hoping to fill a post-doctoral fellowship position for crop entomology. Dr. Felix Sperling has accepted a position in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta.
In Ontario, several current projects in biodiversity at various places in the province, including graduate students and others, were reviewed. There are plans to hire an economic entomologist at the University of Guelph this year. A new biodiversity discovery gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum will incorporate elements from four different forest systems in Ontario. At the Canadian Museum of Nature, a guide will be produced to interpret how the ice storm will affect some of the natural populations in the area. The new Museum building is located on a wetland site and the CMN is undertaking an environmental stewardship program to develop the site for educational and scientific purposes. The Museum is also developing a plan to offer the public an opportunity to have species named after them in return for a donation, not only to raise funds for systematics but in particular to raise the profile of taxonomic work.
In Quebec, studies on biodiversity were reviewed, including the fact that there are five graduate students in systematics and faunistics at the Lyman Museum and three new ones will start in the fall. An entomological study of the Mont St Hilaire biosphere reserve will be started this summer with several cooperators. The Redpath Museum has received a grant from the Quebec government to set up an internet database on Quebec biodiversity. At the Botanical Garden of Montreal a recent butterfly display was extremely popular.
In Newfoundland, Mr. Lloyd Hollett has finally received funding for the long-awaited Newfoundland insectarium. A piece of land has been bought on the banks of the Humber River at Deer Lake and construction started. The opening is planned to coincide with the annual meeting of the Acadian Entomological Society in August. The Canadian Forest Service has completed its move to Cornerbrook but there is no active entomologist; the collection is in storage.
In the arctic, Dr. Ring reported that his research at high latitudes continues at a slow pace. Environment Canada has published its second volume in the Canada Country Study on climate and adaptation, dealing with global climate change in Canada’s arctic. He reviewed the activities of some other arctic organizations. The Committee noted that in terms of per capita spending on arctic research Canada ranks below Australia (and many other countries), and Canada is attempting to get back to 1984 levels of funding.

2. Other matters
The Survey also considered the Biological Survey Foundation (the annual general meeting of Foundation members took place, dealing especially with sales and publicity for the Yukon book), the annual report to the Canadian Museum of Nature, updates about the Biological Survey web site (http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/esc.hp/bschome.htm), and liaisons with other organizations and agencies.

 

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