General information and editorial notes
News and Notes
The BSC has decided to initiate a new Forests Project to address arthropod faunistics and systematics work related to forested ecosystems. The primary goal of the new Project is to coordinate research on the diversity, ecology and impacts of the arthropods of Canadian forests.
Arthropods represent 60-70% of all species in Canadian forests, but are relatively little known despite their great importance (see overleaf). The current situation in Canada concerning research on diversity of arthropods in Canadian forests can be characterized as follows:
·There is much research activity across the country focusing on a wide variety of biodiversity issues, but most work is tightly focused on restricted faunistic inventories or localized testing of specific hypotheses.
·Information exchange is abysmal. Most groups work in isolated pockets and there is relatively little interchange of results or true collaboration.
·There is little synthetic activity to ascertain what is known and where important gaps are.
·Work is often criticized, poorly funded and non-influential because there is no cohesive overall plan.
The BSC is well placed to offset some of these difficulties. It can play strong roles as a clearing house for information, a coordinator and catalyst to foster research and synthesis on arthropod biodiversity, and a unifying voice to express matters of national concern and need. No other organization is currently filling these roles. The Survey proposes to take this opportunity to build better communication, collaboration and cohesion among those working on forest arthropod biodiversity issues, and to build on and integrate existing BSC activities related to forests.
To fulfill these general roles the BSC is undertaking a number of activities:
·Develop an updated list of ongoing forest biodiversity projects. The last survey was completed in 1997 and is outdated. The database will be available on the BSC web site, and will be continually updated. This activity will highlight current activity in Canada and help to facilitate contact between researchers with complementary interests. The survey form is available here.
·Publish a newsletter, Arthropods of Canadian Forests, commencing in the spring of 2004. The newsletter will serve as a communication tool for encouraging information exchange and collaboration among those in Canada who work on forest arthropod biodiversity issues, including faunistics, systematics, conservation, disturbance ecology and adaptive forest management. Content will include: brief news articles concerning meetings, symposia, opportunities, collecting trips, etc.; project updates (short articles that introduce ongoing relevant projects in Canada); feature articles (overviews, summaries, commentaries or syntheses); a listing and brief review of featured publications and websites; and opportunities for graduate student programs, employment, collaboration, funding, etc.
·Sponsor and organize symposia and workshops on relevant topics. The BSC will start by hosting a symposium at the 2005 ESC/ESA meeting (Edmonton) to focus on epigaeic arthropods in forests. This symposium will review progress to date and highlight important gaps and opportunities.
·Construct new pages on the BSC web site to facilitate exchange of information.
In its broader scientific roles, the project as it develops will involve a large number of specialists with expertise on different taxa, in different geographic regions, and with different research interests, embracing three general objectives on the nature of arthropods associated with Canadian forests:
To these ends, faunistic and taxonomic research on selected groups of forest arthropods will be pursued.
·Currently, G.G.E. Scudder and R.G. Foottit are assessing the guild of sucking insects on Pinus banksiana (Jack pine) and P. contorta (Lodgepole pine) by extracting data from collections and by field collecting.
·Other specific activities are anticipated in the near future.
Stay tuned as this project matures and consider becoming involved. If you are interested in participating please contact
David Langor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Neville Winchester (email@example.com).
The economic context
About 45% of Canada’s land area is forested and 25% of the land area is represented by commercial forests. Fifteen terrestrial ecozones in Canada contain forest types, and two-thirds of Canada’s estimated 140,000 species of plants, animals and micro-organisms live in forests. Clearly, forests dominate life zones in the country to the extent that a study of their associated fauna is basic to a full understanding of the arthropod fauna of Canada. Forests also underpin a pillar of the Canadian economy, worth about $75 billion annually and contributing over 360,000 jobs directly, resulting in increased forest development activity. The search for a sustainable balance between ecological, economic and social values of forests drives the national forest policy agenda. The ecological values and services provided by forests are not fully understood or appreciated, a critical information gap that impedes optimal decision-making. In the absence of detailed knowledge of the full range of forest ecosystem functions, biological diversity represents a generally-accepted surrogate of functional ecosystem integration and, as such, is increasingly being included in the suite of forest management objectives for the Canadian forest industry. However, there is the realization that little is known about the vast majority of species, including arthropods, in forests and that improved knowledge (composition, variation, impacts of disturbances) of these groups is necessary to establish meaningful, operational biodiversity objectives as an essential component of sustainable forest management.
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