General information and editorial notes
News and Notes:
Summary of the Meeting of the Scientific
Committee for the Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods),
The Scientific Committee met in Ottawa on April 20–21, 2006.
The hard copy version of the Grasslands Newsletter has been discontinued in favour of posting articles electronically, on the BSC web site. Two articles have been posted and further contributions are welcome. There is also space on the grasslands project page to post general information.
2. Canadian Journal of Arthropod
3. Terrestrial arthropods
of Newfoundland and Labrador
4. Forest arthropods
Volume 2 of the Arthropods of Canadian Forests newsletter will be published electronically in late April (English) and mid-May (French) to over 200 recipients in 8 countries. In addition, the forest project web pages continue to be maintained and updated. Many enquiries have been received as a result of the web page and newsletter, and new contacts have been facilitated.
A BSC-sponsored symposium, entitled "Maintaining Arthropods in Northern Forest Ecosystems," was held during the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of Canada in November 2005. Seven papers synthesized what is known about the structure and dynamics of selected arthropod assemblages (Carabidae, Staphylinidae, spiders, saproxylic arthropods, Lepidoptera, and aquatic arthropods) in managed boreal and north temperate forests. The papers from this symposium will be published in The Canadian Entomologist.
Bio-Blitz 2005 in Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP) was the fifth annual Bio-Blitz sponsored by the Biological Survey of Canada, and the first to include non-grassland ecosystems. Some participants have already identified their collections and have submitted the data to a common database managed by WLNP. Thus far, there are many new records for the park and Alberta and even a few new records for Canada. All data will eventually be accessible to the public, and specimens are being deposited in publicly accessible collections. It is hoped that the 2005 Bio-Blitz experience will give rise to a more long-term arthropod biodiversity survey of WLNP. Bio-Blitz 2006 will be held in Gros Morne National Park (GMNP), Newfoundland, 5–10 July 2006 in collaboration with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation and Parks Canada. There have already been many serious expressions of interest by colleagues in Canada and the USA. Given interest by other National Parks, the Committee considered which Park(s) might be preferable for future BSC Bio-Blitzes, and appropriate contacts will be maintained.
Work on cerambycid beetles continues with the goal of producing three handbooks to the Cerambycidae of Canada and Alaska. Already much material has been examined and revisionary work completed.
5. Insects of the arctic
Work on the dytiscids of Churchill has revealed that of the 74 spp. recorded from Churchill, about 70 spp. are still being found there, and there are additional records of boreal species. Non-biting Diptera from the earlier Horton River and Thelon River trips conducted under the BSC project are still being examined.
6. Seasonal adaptations
7. Invasions and reductions
A list of the non-native arthropods and fungi of Canada is being developed as an extension of a national CFS project on established alien tree-feeding species. The list has grown to about 1700 species to date, including data on common name, distribution, origin, key references, hosts, notes on date and point of entry, and synonyms. A selected bibliography is also being compiled. The CFS plans to develop a web site that is the first stop for information about exotic tree-inhabiting arthropods and fungi in Canada. The Committee discussed possible outlets for the broader database.
The BSC subproject on lady beetles continues, but the data for BC and Quebec are deficient, making it difficult to coordinate a national project as opposed to separate piecemeal regional publications. The original intention had been to prepare a national synthesis of distributions and historical changes, in the context of invasive species. Coccinellids are a logical group to achieve a single connected national database. These data would then be available for use for addressing various ecological and evolutionary questions, which is the other perspective. Members of the Committee drafted plans to solve the problems holding up the national project.
Other scientific priorities
1. Faunal analysis
2. Arthropods and fire
A project to list collecting localities for insects is well along. Some problems have to be solved (for example, a single locality might be referred to in four or five different ways, and location names given in the literature with latitude and longitude do not always correspond with the gazetteer), but the data should soon be ready to post on the BSC web site.
4. Survey web site
Routine maintenance continues such as posting the new BSC newsletter but most of the work has gone into preparing for launch of the redesigned site. The site is nearly finished, including reorganizing the menu structure into a more logical grouping with all options given to the user at a glance. Since the fall meeting some texts have been revised or finalized, some translations done and technical issues with the database of personnel were resolved. The launch was delayed in the hope that the CJAI would be ready at the same time. However, the e-journal was recently delayed and so the redesigned site will soon be launched independent of the e-journal.
5. Endangered species
6. BSC award
7. Monitoring of continuing
For arthropods of aquatic habitats, new student and other projects include work on bog faunas and bog recolonization in eastern Canada. The Burns Bog near Vancouver is gradually drying out, so as part of the recovery plan the water table is being raised by blocking the drainage channels. In due course, some insect groups such as dragonflies may be monitored.
For arthropod ectoparasites of vertebrates, current programs in Canada were reviewed, including various surveys of ectoparasites, lists of fleas and lice, and the taxonomy of flea larvae and other taxa. A handbook on Ticks of Canada is moving forward, including keys and descriptions for all active stages of ticks known to occur in Canada, maps of known distribution, and information on biology, host associations and medical/veterinary importance. This project began in 1991, and was recently resurrected before electronic data were lost, for example.
Other studies were outlined under arthropods of the Yukon, small regional projects and agroecosystems.
8. Other priorities
Liaison and exchange of information
1. Canadian Museum of
The CMN is also involved with the Governing Board for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) which is now in its 5th year of operation to help in the documentation and free accessibility of electronic data for the estimated 3 billion curated specimens around the world. GBIF has undertaken an assessment process to set the stage for the next 5 years.
The Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, an organization of 12 museums, has been working with the New Brunswick Museum to put forward a call for assessment with the newly established Canadian Academy of Sciences about the state of biodiversity science in Canada. By this means issues can be brought forward such as loss of taxonomic expertise, systemic barriers within current structures, and the fact that digitization of collections is not covered under the existing guidelines for NSERC grants. A decision on whether the Academy wants to explore this subject should be received by June.
A discussion paper to propose increased CMN funding especially for research and collection activities had been sent to cabinet but was overtaken by the January 2006 election. Current CMN resources are largely channelled into renovations, with research and collections support reduced.
Members of the Committee noted that many of the specimens, most of the expertise and virtually all of the training for natural history collections are housed at universities, and asked if and when the Alliance of Natural History Museums might become a real alliance including university collections. Mr. Baird would communicate that concern to the Alliance. He noted that the Alliance concentrated initially on developing a communication strategy to get the ear of government and establish a profile.
2. Agriculture and Agri-Food
A number of publications have appeared recently, including monographs and other major publications on Histeridae, Noctuidae, Coleophoridae, and Staphylinoidea.
3. Entomological Society of
A candidate to replace Ms. Alexandra Devine as the ESC Office Manager has been chosen. Someone has put his name forward to replace Dr. Paul Fields as the Bulletin Editor. A candidate is also being sought for Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Entomologist. The Society continues to be in good financial shape.
Dr. Quiring added that the 2006 Joint Annual Meeting in Montreal is on track for November 18 – 22. An invitation was extended to Ms. Devine to attend the meeting. As well, Dr. Peter Harper was invited in order to recognize the translation work he has done for the journal over the years. The theme of the meeting is Diversité. Dr. Charles Vincent is the head of the organizing committee and Dr. Wheeler is the program chair. Five symposia have been submitted, including a graduate student symposium, Invasive species, Canopy arthropods, Arachnology (a tribute to Dr. C.D. Dondale) and New developments in potato pest management. Dr. Quiring confirmed that the ESC is looking at implementing on-line membership registration as well as other web issues. Dr. Bouchard noted that on-line registration for the joint annual meeting will be used as a trial.
Dr. Quiring said that the ESC continues to fully support the BSC. It would like to ensure that the Biological Survey continues once Dr. Danks retires, because he has been the driving force behind the organization.
4. Canadian Forest Service
The CFS is currently in the process of developing two environmental scans to identify the principal players, roles, issues, actions, outcomes, gaps and research needs. The scans will help to determine where biodiversity fits within the CFS business lines. Outputs from this project will assist the CFS to develop its national and international biodiversity agenda for the next 5 or more years. The synthesis of the scans will assist the CFS in formulating a national and international biodiversity agenda to support Canada’s commitment to conserve biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of biological resources. It will assist the CFS to identify science priorities to better inform and support policy development.
Dr. Huber noted two upcoming symposia, Ecological impacts of non-native insects and fungi on terrestrial ecosystems, co-organized and sponsored by the BSC and the CFS, and the 1st Conservation of forest genetic resources forum. Dr. Huber noted that the CFS, like Agriculture, does not currently have a fixed budget.
Members of the Committee thought that as a result of the new CFS approach the department will not be doing less research but it will be more focused into one of the four business lines, and there will be a continuing role for biodiversity science in the CFS. It is hoped that some of the substantial funding for invasive alien species received by CFS will be invested into systematics in the near future.
5. Canadian Society for
Ecology and Evolution
The Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution therefore had its first meeting April 3–4 in Montreal. The organizers were expecting 50 to 100 people but over 300 registered. About 500 people are now members of the society. The first meeting was primarily a business meeting to adopt the constitution of the society, to elect the first council, etc. The next meetings of the Society will be in 2007 in Toronto, and in 2008 in Vancouver, with a scientific focus on research.
Systematists and entomologists were under represented at the first meeting, although the Society has potential as a single voice that can be used to lobby various funding agencies such as NSERC to get the message out that ecology and evolution research is critical to Canada’s economic, intellectual and cultural health.
6. Parasitology module,
Canadian Society of Zoologists
The Science Policy Committee of the Canadian Society of Zoologists utilizes a lobbyist. Current priorities are matching-funds issues, promotion of investment to maintain the climate of creativity, support for post docs, and environmental issues. The annual meeting of the CSZ will be held during the first week of May in Edmonton. The overall thematic symposium will be Biology of the Canadian arctic – integrating across scales. There will be a parasite symposium on emerging pathogens. Next year’s meeting will be held in late May in Montreal.
Environment Canada has been reorganized along the theme of projects and results. Research is organized nationally, largely centered in Burlington. Dr. Marcogliese circulated some articles of interest.
1. Regional developments
In the Prairies, a new containment facility has been built at Lethbridge, to provide as many natural spaces for insect rearing as possible. A retired professor from the Biology Department of the University of Saskatchewan has now expressed interest in curating and databasing the collections at the University and at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon.
In Alberta, a recovery plan for the Yucca Moth / Soapweed has just been approved. Weidermeyer’s Admiral butterfly has been recommended for designation as a species at risk. The Alberta Conservation Association has funded surveys of moths in southern Alberta. An especially large number of biodiversity projects in forest systems continue at the Canadian Forest Service and the University of Alberta.
In Manitoba, much work is being done on mosquitoes (cf. West Nile Virus) and on projects related to biocontrol.
In Ontario, several fascicles in the handbook series (now published by NRC Press) are being considered for reprinting. On 1 July the Department of Zoology at the University of Toronto will amalgamate with the Department of Botany to form two new departments – the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Department of Cells and Systems Biology. At the Royal Ontario Museum some new galleries have opened and the ‘crystal’ addition is progressing. A symposium organized through the Toronto Entomology Association, at which students gave research-based seminars, was very successful. Much activity at the University of Guelph is tied in with the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification. Unfortunately, there have been some obstacles to expansion of the insect collection although funds are available from the CFI grant also supporting an active bar coding program.
In Quebec, entomology is in a growth stage with much activity at several universities and at research stations, including work on forest insects and spiders at Université du Québec à Montréal and McGill University, and taxonomic research at McGill University and elsewhere. Some storage space at the Lyman Museum has been lost and therefore many reprints and memoirs on systematics are available. The editor of Fabreries (journal of the Association des entomologistes amateurs du Québec) recently resigned and the Society is looking for a new editor.
In Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes, research at universities, museums and government research stations includes work on insects of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, agroecosystems, forests, invasive species in urban systems, and distribution of beetles in the Atlantic region. On PEI community groups are being encouraged to collect and monitor the numbers of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera, but no provision has been made to identify further or archive the samples. A mini-Bio-Blitz on Scaterie Island off Cape Breton resulted in interesting finds. The Acadian Entomological Society meets on 11-13 June.
For the arctic, the Boreal and Arctic entomology course in Churchill will take place again this summer, including field work in Wapusk National Park by agreement with the Park. In that park (established because it is a polar bear denning site) there is no road access and fingers of arctic habitat mingle with boreal forest.
2. Other matters
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