Newsletter of the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods)

Volume 19 No. 1, Spring 2000


 

News and Notes

 

General information and editorial notes

News and Notes

Activities at the Entomological Societies' Meeting
Summary of the Scientific Committee Meeting
Symposium on Biodiversity
Yukon book well received

Project Update: seasonal adaptations in insects

The Quiz Page

Jumping Spiders of Canada

Selected Future Conferences

Answers to Faunal Quiz

Quips and Quotes

List of Requests for Material or Information required for Studies of the Canadian Fauna 2000

Cooperation Offered

List of Addresses

Index to Taxa

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary of the meeting of the Scientific Committee for the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), October 2000

The Scientific Committee met in Ottawa on 12-13 October 2000.

Scientific projects:

The various scientific projects of the Survey were discussed, including the following progress.

1. GrasslandsDr. Terry Wheeler had reported that the Survey’s Informal Conference on Arthropods of Grasslands would be held as anticipated at the joint ESA/ESC/SEQ meeting on Wednesday 6 December. The list of speakers and titles is available on the BSC grasslands web page and in the fall BSC newsletter. A formal symposium on the grasslands project is planned, possibly at next year’s ESC meeting in Niagara Falls. Habitat-based ecological projects will be the focus of this symposium and the symposium proceedings, along with additional ecological chapters, would constitute the first major volume in the Grasslands project. Dr. Wheeler also reported on summer fieldwork in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, continuing activities in the southern Yukon grasslands, and the processing and sorting of Diptera from grassland collections. Dr. Floate reported on a preserved area of foothills grasslands in Alberta called the Ross grasslands. He commented on this and other unique habitats with a good potential for research. He added that frequent and widespread grass fires continue throughout Alberta. The year 2000 was another drought year in Alberta and the situation is critical, so that grassland ecology is in the public eye. He outlined some ongoing research on grasslands in Alberta. The Committee reviewed research from elsewhere as well as ideas for seeking funding from foundations, upcoming conferences (see http://iisd.ca/wetlands/pcesc/default.htm) and additional grasslands conservation initiatives. To move forward the Grasslands project further the subcommittee will develop plans for joint collecting efforts in key grassland habitats over the next two or three years.

2. Seasonal adaptations
Dr. Ring reported on the symposium on cold hardiness held at the University of Victoria last spring. About 40 participants represented 8 different countries, and topics ranged from soil ecology to molecular genetics. Some of the papers will be published. The next meeting of this triennial event will take place in 2003 in the Czech Republic. Dr. Danks reminded the Committee that the purpose of the project was to try and push forward work on arctic insects in Canada. Within that framework the Arctic Insect News newsletter was initiated. However, developments in this area have been lacking and Canadian content for the newsletter is rather limited. Many of the submissions are from or deal with work in other countries and more than half of the recipients of Arctic Insect News are from outside Canada. The newsletter, like the project itself, has not visibly increased work in Canadian arctic entomology, due to lack of funding, lack of personnel and difficulty in permit procedures for example. Although it is well received overseas, Arctic Insect News is not really serving the objectives of the Biological Survey. The Committee considered whether Arctic Insect News should be discontinued, allowing further efforts to be placed on the Grasslands Newsletter, for example. It was agreed to discontinue the newsletter, but to include a section in the Survey’s regular newsletter devoted to arctic research. The Committee also thought that someone in the international community might want to start something similar to Arctic Insect News, but without the Canadian arctic emphasis of the Survey’s newsletter.

3. Insects of Keewatin and Mackenzie

Dr. Currie outlined this project focussed on the Keewatin and Mackenzie regions which have been relatively little surveyed. An expedition will be undertaken in July / August 2000 down a 700-km length of the Horton River. This will allow sampling not only the transect along the river but also riparian and other habitats along tributaries of various sizes. The project will go forward (6 participants are already in place) and complex matters related to permits, as well as additional funding, are being pursued.

4. Other

Other projects were reviewed, including those on keys to the families of Canadian arthropds and arthropods of the boreal zone.

Other Scientific Priorities:

1. Arthropod fauna of soils

Dr. Behan-Pelletier reported that she had attended the Soil Ecology Society Conference held in Chicago last May. Papers were presented on mites, spiders, and isopods. A Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) workshop that Dr. Behan-Pelletier attended in August also focussed on how biodiversity impacts on ecosystem processes, notably the critical transition zones between atmosphere, soil, groundwater, streams, rivers and marine systems. Dr. Behan-Pelletier anticipates that papers from the meeting will point out the need for studies of the roles of Diptera in this context. Every SCOPE workshop also demonstrates the need for more systematists. The deadline for a report on biodiversity in Canadian agricultural soils (for SBSTTA), mentioned at previous meetings, has been delayed to December 1999.

A soil microarthopod key to the order level on CD has been developed by Dr. Dave Walter with the software package LUCID at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. It is hoped that the CD will be published in the next year. Dr. Behan-Pelletier reviewed other publications and presentations, as well as current graduate studies on soil arthropods. She  continues to work in collaborative studies in forest canopy and other sites. Dr. Behan-Pelletier also drew the Committee’s attention to the newsletters Quaternary Entomology Dispatch, and The Network News, newsletter of the Long Term Ecological Research Network.

2. Old-growth forests

Dr. Scudder reported that discussion continues among researchers about  organizing a symposium on old-growth forests. Several studies would be completed within the next two years, and perhaps a Survey project should concentrate only on certain types of work, although comparative studies on the canopy and comparative studies on chronosequences as well as the effects of forest practices on the fauna are all in progress. Discussions about the nature and timing of the symposium will continue.

3. Invasions and reductions

Dr. Scudder reminded the Committee that he and Dr. Foottit have submitted a preliminary proposal for a symposium on this subject at the joint meeting in 2000 and they are continuing to develop a list of speakers. However, it is difficult to define further long-term projects because most of the information available is anecdotal and solid databases are required.  He emphasized that long-term research is needed with younger people involved. Unfortunately there are few resources for this because the federal government has stopped assessing invasions. The Survey needs to provide influence here. The Survey’s current approach might best be to define the context for some of the well-known documented cases and seek any common theme.  Longer-term objectives would be to produce a publication, and to support long-term initiatives.

4. Endangered species

A paper by Dr. Scudder commenting unfavourably about Canada’s endangered species protection had recently been published in a special issue of Conservation Biology. The same issue includes three other papers on endangered species acts in the United States, Australia and Europe, which convincingly demonstrate how poorly Canada does compared to these other jurisdictions. For example, Australia – with some similar features of size, population, and so on – is far ahead of Canada.

5. Survey web site

Dr. Danks explained that the main need to permit a redesigned and expanded Survey web site was a person to do this work. The Survey was able recently to hire Ms. Agnes Bonk for this role through a six-month internship under the Youth International Internship Program.

Therefore, work is being done on the site, and the input of the Committee was sought as to priorities. This included more actual faunal data including scientific projects. However content (as opposed to web design) would have to be provided for this purpose. More minor features, such a site map and links, could be implemented more easily.

It was agreed that the grasslands project would be a feature project for the web site. Dr. Wheeler would be responsible for coordinating content. The Survey’s database of personnel, Yukon book data, and faunal analysis information would also be given priority. Committee members agreed to send ideas and materials (such as photographs of habitats or people) to the Secretariat to help in the web site update.

The Committee agreed that two servers might best fulfill the Survey’s needs - one with considerable memory but without the necessity for rapid changes to be used for posting books and other Survey publications, preferably in a searchable format, and the other that would be smaller but easier to access for rapid updates.

6. Funding for Biodiversity Projects

Dr. Wheeler distributed a draft of the information on funding sources for biodiversity projects in entomology, especially systematics, that he had assembled. This information is aimed at graduate and senior undergraduate students including general advice on preparing applications, how to find sources of funding, and a list of funding sources divided by category including some suggestions for non-traditional sources of funding. It is anticipated that this information or the way to access it will be posted relatively soon on the Biological Survey’s web site with a link on the ESC’s student affairs  web page.

7. Geographical data standards for specimen labels

Dr. Wheeler reported that a brief on label data standards is in progress, considering label preparation standards, label information standards, and perhaps data retrieval standards. The final brief should be available for review in April 2000.

8. Potential brief on the value of proper biodiversity studies

A draft brief – showing that the Survey’s “prescriptions” published in earlier briefs on how to do biodiversity studies properly are effective – was reviewed. The general message and approach of the brief were deemed appropriate and a final draft will be prepared for April 2000.

9. Monitoring of continuing priorities

The Committee reviewed many completed or less active Survey projects to expose updated information, including items about arthropods of peatlands, aquatic insects of freshwater wetlands, arthropod fauna of springs, arthropod ectoparasites of vertebrates, arthropods of the Yukon, arthropods of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), arthropods of alvars, climatic change, environmental appraisal, agroecosystems, and some other topics such as aspects of insect trapping.

10. Information technology

Mr. Larry Speers, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,  reminded the Committee that he has been involved with the field of bioinformatics for several years and he sees it having a significant impact on research. He believes that a number of trends will have a major impact on the ability to obtain funding but it will take a cultural change on how people view work and data generated. There is tremendous potential to use electronic management tools to reverse fragmentation of the study of biology.

Bioinformatics is the application of information technology to biology with the emphasis on persistent data stores, and natural history collections are the main source of persistent data stores. At present, however, they are scattered and not electronically accessible. Therefore, a distributed internet-based network of persistent, searchable, documented inter-operable databases is being developed. A core requirement is accessing correct names. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is now working with the U.S. on an integrated taxonomic information system for North America (see http://res.agr.ca/itis) to make accessible authoritative nomenclature. There is a need for experts to take stewardship responsibility for many invertebrate groups.

Mr. Speers noted that electronic tools can show or compare any competing classification system, allowing an internet search portal for biological data mining. Eventually the system will be able to search natural history collections. Some breakthroughs have been made at the specimen level, modelled after Z39.50 protocol developments for distributed searching in the library community, which allow simultaneous searching of multiple catalogues. Work is proceeding on a similar system to query natural history collections. A prototype at the University of Kansas has been funded by NAFTA and is now on line.

Dr. Floate wondered whether – once all the collection information is available electronically – there would be sufficient money to maintain the collections themselves. Mr. Speers did not see this as potential problem, but more professional credit will have to be provided for data-management activities. Dr. Scudder thought that such database development is the correct direction, but he provided relevant examples where funding was made available to develop databases but not to do proper identifications or to correct the information in the databases. Dr. Smith and Mr. Speers stated that, in a broader context, systematics support must be in place to ensure that the databases will have authoritative content and the ability to develop and maintain that content.

Dr. Danks wondered whether there is any evidence that the support currently being received for databasing and distributed information systems is being reflected in the necessary systematics infrastructures. Mr. Speers and Dr. Smith agreed that it is important to point out to decision makers that if there is no assurance that the quality of the existing information will be upgraded nor that new information will be added there is no point in developing any of these tools.

Liaison and exchange of information:

1. Canadian Museum of Nature

Ms. Joanne DiCosimo, President, Canadian Museum of Nature, reminded the Committee that the Museum had held national consultations in the fall of 1997. From that work strategic directions were set and published in a document called Focus and Renewal. The Museum is currently developing the third year of that plan and simultaneously considering long-term planning. National consultations with museums and the academic community are again being considered. The Museum is currently undertaking a renewal plan for the Victoria Memorial Museum Building in Ottawa, as well as a major private-sector fund-raising campaign targeted for three specific gallery-development projects, the creation of a nature access fund (to support digitizing the collection records) and programming support for the Canadian Centre for Biodiversity. A second proposal is being prepared for submission to Treasury Board to fund the staged replacement of scientific equipment.

Dr. Mark Graham, Director of Research Services, reported on progress from the Federal Biosystematics Partnership, including evaluating the large scale international proposal for a  Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The FBP will be coordinating to some extent the project formerly known as CanBII, now known as the Biota of Canada, examining what components should go into that database and how museums and other collections facilities can contribute. A workshop on this topic is planned.

The Museum hopes soon to have 400,000 of its 2.1 million collections records available electronically in a metadata format through the Museum’s web site. The CMN has started an interest group amongst the museum community to look at how natural history collections are developed in Canada and at the research expertise that resides at those natural history museums. A full survey of those institutions will be conducted next year. Discussions are underway with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) about the maintenance of  natural history collections at universities. Dr. Graham added that if orphaned collections are not catalogued it is logistically difficult to make them available subsequently in a meaningful way. Members of the Committee noted that NSERC had been made aware of concerns about collections in the past.

The Museum continues to have an interest in joint positions - the joint appointment of Dr. André Martel with the CMN and as Assistant Director at Bamfield Marine Station was recently renewed. The Museum will be providing office facilities for the Executive Secretary of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, Dr. Danna Leaman.

Dr. Graham spoke about Environment Canada’s environmental effects monitoring program, which recently has considered the requirements for metal mines to monitor their impacts on the aquatic environment, including diversity monitoring with a requirement to retain voucher specimens (mostly aquatic insects) from all of the monitoring stations. The mines may be looking for advice on how to identify and store these samples.

Dr. Graham noted that the Council of Science and Technology Advisors has produced a report called Science Advice for Government Effectiveness, stating how the government should receive scientific advice. This report was published in draft form with outside input requested. 

2. Biological Resources Program, ECORC

Dr. Jean-Marc Deschênes, Director, ECORC, reported that the reorganization of the Biological Resource unit is now complete. He reminded the Committee that it is made up of three sections: entomology, biodiversity, and mycology and botany.

Dr. Deschênes explained that the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) was initiated under the major science forum for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A meeting was held in March in Paris. A follow-up meeting was held in September in Washington to review the founding documents including agreements, intellectual property issues, and business plans. The FBP felt that the cost of the original business plan was too high and the structure needs to be re-examined. Dr. Deschênes announced that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has re-established procedures to evaluate donations of private collections so that the donor can receive a tax credit. A new scanning electron microscope will be obtained this year for BRP. Plans are proceeding to upgrade collection facilities, especially storage areas, cabinets, laboratories and offices. The Canadian version of ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) – to develop an on-line, scientifically credible, list of biological names focusing on the biota of North America – has now been launched on the internet.

Dr. Smith explained that the federal partnership formerly known as CANBII is becoming stronger. Cooperative activity with the CMN and Forestry continues to further develop the idea of an online biota of Canada based on data captured from specimens in their collections. The initial module is the butterflies of Canada, which has been in process for almost two years, involving all of the major collections in Canada as well as some smaller ones. Dr. Smith emphasized that such a project works only if everyone contributes and participates, which has been the case. It is hoped that the next phase will be additional modules. Dr. Smith added that a proposal has been submitted to the natural resources departments (5NR) for a 3-year project to focus resources in the federal system in a more methodical fashion on the Biota of Canada initiative. Dr. Smith also mentioned that he and Mr. Larry Speers are now involved with the North American Biodiversity Commission, working to propose a number of North American ventures in bioinformatics. A meeting is planned for January 2000.

3. Entomological Society of Canada

Dr. Hugh Danks, past-past president, reported on behalf of Dr. Dan Johnson, the current president. The annual meeting of the Society was held in Saskatoon and was very well attended with an excellent scientific program.

Dr. Danks reported that the Society has returned into the black after a number of years of difficult finances. In 1999 the ESC was even able to place some funds back into investment accounts as a buffer for the future. The reasons for such an improvement include mainly the revised publication and other avenues that the Society implemented following its strategic review a couple of years ago; and also the fact that the book on Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada continues to sell steadily (returning more of that substantial past expenditure). The Society is considering details of electronic publishing of the Canadian Entomologist (in consultation with the NRC Research Press). A report and recommendations will be available next year for potential action. A new Editor for the ESC Bulletin will be required next year as Dr. Hugh Barclay will be stepping down by the end of the year.

Dr. Danks reported that the key item in the shorter term is the matter of the year 2000 joint annual meeting with the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Société d’entomologie du Québec (SEQ) (Montreal, December 2-7). The ESC believes that it will be an excellent scientific meeting, but some financial issues remain to be resolved with the ESA.

4. Canadian Wildlife Service / Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

Dr. Theresa Fowler, CWS, reminded the Committee that she reported about pending endangered species legislation a few years ago. The new minister is interested in the legislation and soon drafting the legal terminology of the act should begin. Its name is now the Species at Risk Act.

Dr. Fowler explained that COSEWIC has new terms of reference. The vote has been restored to the species specialists groups. Because of the new terms of reference, Dr. Fowler is working on a new organization and procedures manual. As chair of the Lepidoptera and Mollusca subcommittee, she  now looks after the Lepidoptera while her co-chair handles the Mollusca. COSEWIC is changing with a view to pending legislation and because there is a need to better justify the listings of species. After a long and elaborate process of evaluating various assessment criteria COSEWIC has decided to adopt criteria that are almost identical to those used by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). As a result of the new listings and the pending legislation, the focus of COSEWIC in the near future will be to reassess all the species it has assessed to date using the new criteria. New listings will be limited to species expected to be at a relatively high risk. Last April two butterfly species, the Island Marble and the Frosted Elfin, were newly listed as extirpated.

5. Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network

Dr. Peter Hall, Partnerships Coordinator, Environment Canada,  reported that the EMAN recently published the vegetation monitoring protocols and is now trying to make them better known to groups around the country. The objective is to have biological diversity monitoring groups using similar methods and protocols for making biodiversity assessments. A “core variables” project has been completed to the point that EMAN has a proposal and can conduct consultations. Another EMAN initiative is the topic of advisories to senior management in the bureaucracy. EMAN envisages two types of advisory: an early warning ecosystem change advisory, which points out to policy makers the risks in ecosystem changes, with recommendations on how they might be addressed; and a state of the ecosystem advisory.

6. MAB/Canada

Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette, MAB/Canada, stated that the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association is active and has a number of ongoing interesting projects. She circulated the first volume of the new edition of Ecotours of the Trans-Canada Highway. This is a Canadian contribution to MAB and all the biosphere reserves will be mentioned in the text. Other volumes are in preparation. Dr. Roberts-Pichette noted a report being finalized to propose the development of a terrestrial climate observing system for Canada.

7. Parasitology module, Canadian Society of Zoologists

Dr. David Marcogliese, Parasitology module, reported that monitoring protocols for  parasites of freshwater fish have been submitted to EMAN and should be posted on their web site soon. Protocols for parasites of birds, of amphibians and reptiles and of mammals are in progress. The parasitology directory remains on the parasitology module web site (http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/parasites/indexen/modulei.htm).

The perch project continues with new data being added. A project on Biodiversity of Stickleback Parasites was accepted by DIVERSITAS (though without funding) as one of the Canadian projects for the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY). Dr. Marcogliese also reported on a number of recent developments in parasitology, and noted many projects and publications related to biodiversity.

Other items:

1. Regional developments

Members of the Committee summarized relevant information from various regions. For example, in British Columbia the University of Victoria’s Department of Biology is steering more towards the areas of bioinformatics, structural biology (= proteins), genomics, and integrated biology, and away from systematics and taxonomy. The Entomological Society of British Columbia is healthy and held its annual meeting in October. Dr. Scudder reported that his last four students are completing their degrees. He retired last spring. When these students have finished there will be no more invertebrate biodiversity studies in the Zoology Department at the University of British Columbia because there will be no replacement to teach the entomology and the evolution courses, which have been cancelled. The University of British Columbia has not yet found a way to support its collections. The Osoyoos Desert Centre has opened, a grassland area where ecosystem restoration is being done. There is research there and also a public interpretation program. The new Minister of the Environment has toured the south Okanagan area where a conservation plan is being developed, which calls for 40% of the area to be maintained in its original state, so that the area is not destroyed from a biological viewpoint by overdevelopment.  The focus of entomological work at the Royal British Columbia Museum has been on databasing with a concentration on the dragonfly database. There has also been work with the Conservation Data Centre to establish lists of threatened and endangered terrestrial arthropods.

In the prairies, the Entomological Society of Alberta held its annual meeting in October. The Society is strong, and approximately 80 of 150 members attended. A great deal of attention had been generated by an article published in the Lethbridge Herald announcing that a beetle representing a major threat to hardwood forests had been recovered in Alberta, although in fact  the specimens were a common species of longhorn beetle. Dr. Kevin Floate declared that this story demonstrates both the importance of accurate identifications and how quickly electronic media operate. Dr. Dale Wrubleski reported on the second Manitoba biodiversity field inventory workshop held in the spring by the Manitoba Conservation Data Centre with the wildlife branch of the Department of Natural Resources, and intended to foster cooperation and information exchange.  Projects included a Manitoba dragonfly survey, a lady beetle survey, an atlas of the ants of Manitoba and a book on tiger beetles of Manitoba. Dr. Wrubleski reviewed various other projects based in Manitoba. Dr. Richard Westwood is now at the University of Winnipeg. The annual meeting of the Entomological Society of Manitoba was held in November with the theme of recent human activity in agriculture and the environment affecting insects. Dr. David Larson observed how tidy and managed the prairies seem to be, especially along the roadways where there are now no refuges for wildlife, in contrast to the habitat in other jurisdictions.

In Ontario, two new students are working on entomology projects at the Royal Ontario Museum for a total of seven students. There has been good progress on the databasing of the Walker odonates. Lepidoptera specimens are being moved into new cabinets as information is being captured for the Butterflies of Canada project. A book on special habitats in natural environments in the greater Toronto area was recently published and it includes a chapter by Dr. Glenn Wiggins on arthropods.  Dr. Steve Marshall received an NSERC grant to hire a curator for the collection at the University of Guelph. The Canadian National Collection of insects and arachnids now has a bilingual web site with links to the developing type catalogues and to systematics workers at ECORC [http://res.agr.ca/ecorc/cnc/index.htm]. Other reports were made about students and researchers in entomology in Ontario.

In Quebec, a 15-page supplement on entomology was published in Quebec Sciénce. The annual meeting of the Société d’entomologie du Québec was held in October in Hull, Quebec. The theme of the meeting was biodiversity, including an all-day symposium. Planning continues for the joint ESA/ESC/SEQ meeting in 2000. A book on the histerid beetles of Quebec has been published. A book on the butterflies of Quebec has also been published. A CD on invertebrates of freshwater habitats is being published in 2000. Dr. Vickery has retired from the Lyman Museum and moved to the east coast. Five graduate students, as well as a number of undergraduate students and volunteers, are working on systematics and biodiversity projects at McGill University.

In Newfoundland and the Maritimes, the Newfoundland insectarium has celebrated its first anniversary and has apparently been successful. Dr. Roger Pickervance has started research on Newfoundland spiders. Mr. Paul-Michael Brunelle discovered a new dragonfly species. A book on butterflies has been produced by Mr. Bernard Jackson, former director of the Memorial University botanic garden. Dr. Donna Giberson announced that as of September the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty of Science can offer a graduate program, and students should start in January. Recently the Environmental Protection Act (including the province’s endangered species legislation) has been amended and a forest practices code implemented. Several entomological projects are underway on P.E.I.

For the Arctic, Dr. Richard Ring noted that he, Dr. Olga Kukal, Mr. Tom Allen and a student from Dr. Rick Lee’s laboratory in Ohio had worked in the high arctic in summer 1999. These places are receiving increased ecotourism. The Polar Continental Shelf Project is keen on supporting university research as much as possible in terms of logistic support. However, the Polar Continental Shelf Project base at Tuktoyuktuk is theoretically still open but was not open last year. Because it will open only if there is demand, he doubts that will happen, because those making plans will tend to avoid the uncertainty of an opening based on demand. The University of the Arctic has an increasing profile including a recent editorial in the last issue of Arctic. This will be a virtual university, organized by 8 circumpolar nations, and will include some field courses in central locations. The Canadian Committee for Antarctic Research has released a discussion paper on a strategic plan for Canada for Antarctic and Bipolar Science. The annual meeting of the Association for Canadian Universities for Northern Studies in November in Ottawa addresses the importance of arctic research.

2. Other matters

The Committee also considered other recent information, including international and national liaisons, membership of the Scientific Committee, the need to urge selected scientific journals to publish faunistic papers, sales of the book Insects of the Yukon, operations of the Biological Survey Secretariat, damaged ecosystems and Survey publicity.

Symposium on biodiversity at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Quebec

The entire second day of the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Société d’entomologie du Québec was devoted to a symposium on biodiversity, within the context of the overall meeting, organized by Gabriel Guillet (Université de Montréal), François Lorenzetti (Université de Montréal), Bernard Philogène (Université d’Ottawa) and John Arnason (Université d’Ottawa). The program also included a full scientific program on the first day, as well as social events and local visits.

The Symposium on Biodiversity on October 26 was organized by François Lorenzetti and chaired by Hugh Danks (Canadian Museum of Nature). It comprised 7 scientific presentations, and a concluding panel discussion and question period with all speakers. Also printed in the meeting program was the abstract of a further paper that had to be cancelled at the last moment but is included below. Topics covered a deliberately wide range of approaches and perspectives:

The geographical variation in biodiversity: patterns, mechanisms and dead-ends. David J. Currie. An approach was described that suggests that climatic factors (rather than loss of habitats, for example) explain a large fraction of the large-scale geographical variability observed in the species richness of many groups, including insects.

Insect biodiversity of a tropical archipelago: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Evolution, ecology, and distribution. Stewart B. Peck. At least 1850 insect species are now known from the Galapagos Islands, and the fauna of individual islands depends on island area, elevation and ecological complexity. Indigenous species arrived mostly by air and on the sea surface, but a growing number of species is introduced.

The primacy of the species level in biodiversity studies. Pierre Paquin. The various levels of biodiversity were defined and illustrated: species diversity is suggested as the focal point, which depends on taxonomic knowledge. Various alternatives were defined and illustrated, and data from a boreal forest site used to show that only species-level studies, and not the alternatives, provide sufficient precision and confidence.

The contribution of genomic sequencing to the systematics of Lepidoptera. Bernard Landry. The technique of genomic sequencing greatly helps the study of biodiversity in the context of evolution, and can be used to generate novel phylogenetic hypotheses at all levels of classification, as illustrated by specific examples for the Lepidoptera.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is a centre for natural science collections, systematics research and a window to the natural world. Mark S. Graham. The regional, national and international activities of the Canadian Museum of Nature were reviewed, including the large and important collections of natural history items and the work of the Canadian Centre for Biodiversity.

Is there a future for insects in forest biodiversity reseach projects? Agathe Cimon and Danièle Pouliot.[Abstract only] Knowledge of insects in forest habitats is fragmentary, despite the potential value of insects to characterize and monitor forest systems. However, to permit such uses resources must be invested in such necessities as taxonomic training, collections, databanks and the acquisition of basic knowledge.

Using insects in the process of determining criteria and indicators of sustainable development in forestry. Christian Hebert. The Canadian Forest Service has developed a Forest Biodiversity Network to provide the scientific foundation to monitor and report on the status of forest biodiversity, to improve understanding of human and other impacts on that diversity, and to develop means to preserve it. Recent work that addresses these objectives for insects was outlined.

Concluding remarks: Biodiversity - some current themes and requirements. Hugh V. Danks. An overview of selected themes highlights the importance of considering information at a range of spatial and temporal scales, the need for proper procedures for studying biodiversity, and the need for long-term systematics infrastructures to support such work.

Extended abstracts of the presentations will be published in the winter issue of the SEQ Bulletin, Antennae.

Yukon book well received

The book Insects of the Yukon, published by the Biological Survey in late 1997, has been very well received. Several newspaper, radio and other general accounts were prepared (e.g. Globe and Mail, Yukon outlets), and reviews have so far been published in three scientific journals.

John Edwards’ review (Quarterly Review of Biology 74(2): 234-235, 1999) reads in part: “This monumental volume is a prodigious achievement in welding the work of 35 authors into a coherent whole of over a thousand pages. Bounded by introductory sketches of present and past Yukon environments, and a valuable concluding overview and synthesis, the bulk of this book presents annotated species lists of arachnids and insects, together with commentary on their distribution and biogeographical significance.. . . This volume . . . is a mine of data for the systematist, ecologist, and biogeographer, and it may well be an important base line for the future evaluation of consequences of global warming. One can only hope that those concerned with the Alaskan and Siberian sectors of Beringia will in due course emulate the splendid example set by the Canadians.”

Annals of the Entomological Society of America 91(6): 893-894, 1998) included a similar theme: “To their credit, the Canadian entomologists appear to have developed an ability to work cooperatively to accomplish projects of substantial magnitude; they are a group to be studied and imitated. . . . I was impressed by the quality of each of the chapters and their overall similarity without being repetitive. For instance, as one might expect, numerous maps are used by several of the authors to indicate items such as collection sites and routes of dispersal. While the maps are not of a consistent size or format, they are well done, and each is designed to best suit the needs of the author. And, while each chapter contains the minimal amount of information that makes that chapter a valuable addition to the book, the apparent freedom given to the authors to develop individual styles and uses of the information available adds to the overall quality of the book. The editors should be applauded for allowing the authors to explore their interests, yet reining them in enough so that the volume did not become a collection of disparate thought and styles. The work load on the editors and the authors was certainly substantial. . . Each of the chapters is a self-contained entity with a separate list of references. Two indices are provided; an index of families and higher taxa of arthropods and a subject index. I found the subject index to be especially valuable because I was able to cross-reference general topics throughout all of the chapters. . . I found a lot to like in Insects of the Yukon . . . anyone interested in the broader applications of faunistic data will find inspiration and some thought provoking studies and discussions . . . this is another in a series of exceptional contributions provided through the efforts of the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods) and its contributing entomologists.”

Mark Oswood, emphasizing aquatic aspects (Journal of the North American Benthological Society 17(3): 377-378, 1998) wrote in part:

“The taxa lists provided in each of the chapters are important contributions to our knowledge of the fauna of northern ecosystems. . . . Documenting the biodiversity of high-latitude regions is important because these regions are likely to see increased resource extraction and because climate models predict sizable temperature increases at high latitudes. Nonetheless, reading taxa lists is mostly exciting only to dedicated systematists and biogeographers. Fortunately, . . . the chapter authors provide discussions of 2 themes that truly unify the chapters: 1) adaptations to high latitudes (especially life histories), and 2) Pleistocene glaciation (and the Beringian refugium) as a historical event that still haunts North America. . . . The final chapter of the book . . . provides more than the usual summing-up chapter common to edited books. . . . The motif of the book — seeking explanations about the nature of the Yukon insect fauna from geographic distributions of taxa considered in light of present and past environments of northwestern North America — is ably reviewed, helping readers make collective sense of the taxonomically constrained chapters. . . .At only $95 and with just over 1000 pages, this book is a cost / unit bookmass bargain and a necessary addition to any academic library whose goals include decent holdings in entomology and biogeography. . . Finally, this book is a model of the value of long-term projects organized around a strong theme and thoughtfully synthesized.”

Copies of  Insects of the Yukon are still available from the:

Entomological Society of Canada,
393 Winston Avenue,
Ottawa, ON,  K2A 1Y8 Canada
phone: (613) 725-2619
fax: (613) 725-9349
e-mail: entsoc.can@sympatico.ca

$95 (Cdn) to destinations in Canada (+ 7% GST)

$95 (U.S.) to destinations elsewhere

 


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