In the Arctic, climate change is leading to declines in seasonal sea-ice cover. Polar bears are increasingly at-risk from sea-ice loss because they use the ice as a platform to hunt seals, their preferred food source. When the ice retreats seasonally, bears rely on their stored energy reserves as fuel, but climate-driven changes in sea-ice melt and refreezing have forced bears to go for longer periods without access to seals. With temperatures expected to increase, it is important to know how polar bear populations will respond to never-before-seen declines in sea ice.
With the demand for high quality farmed fish on the rise, we are also expected to deliver on greater supplies of fish feed. Currently, fish feed is manufactured by capturing small foraging fish in the ocean, which are converted into pellets. This practice hinders marine life by disrupting the natural food chain of larger fish. The proposed research aims to use microalgae as an alternative to forage fish. We aim to accomplish this by using genetic engineering tools to upregulate the production of nutrients that are necessary for fish growth and quality.
Western honey bees are economically important insects that provide essential pollination services to agriculture. It is generally acknowledged that Varroa destructor mites, since making their way from Asia to the rest of the world, have become the most serious threat to the stability of the apiculture industry. To control V. destructor, apiculturists apply miticides, but this entails significant costs and additional labour, has collateral effects on honey bees, and can leave residues in commercial products; moreover, miticide resistance has repeatedly evolved.
The holobiont view of organism microbiomes suggests that microbial communities influence and are influenced by animal behaviour. While many microbes are beneficial and necessary for digestion and homeostasis, others can be detrimental, including pathogens leading to compromised immunity and disease states. Recent studies suggest microbiomes covary with landscape floral and fungal diversity, yet fine scale data does not exist examining consistent hubs for beneficial and pathogenic microbes outside of select few crop and flower species.
This project is examining the movements (migratory and local), status, and health of the Turkey Vulture in the Pacific Northwest, with a particular focus on Vancouver Island. This is at the northwestern edge of their relatively recent (and continuing) apparent range expansion and population growth locally. Through a process of trapping, tagging, monitoring, and observing vultures, we aim to learn about various aspects of their life history. These aspects include their local movements, foraging, and breeding habits/habitats, including details of nest sites and roosts.
This program will investigate the role disease plays in salmon declines and the risks posed by open-net salmon farming to wild Pacific salmon. First, our ongoing partnership with the Broughton Archipelago Transition Initiative (BATI) will monitor salmon-farm impacts, serving as a testing ground for monitoring technologies to support Indigenous self-determination. Second, we will expand our work on the west coast of Vancouver Island, casting focus on the impacts of BC’s last major salmon-farm cluster on imperiled populations of Chinook salmon.
Many species on earth are experiencing changes in their geographic distributions as climate change progresses. Ecologists don’t fully understand what limits or promotes a species ability to move in response to global change- factors such as temperature, interactions with other species, and population genetics can all play a role. I am interested in exploring how the availability of habitat might determine how far species can move beyond their current distributions.
Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and micropollutants are primary environmental stressors that pollute lakes, drinking water wells, and streams. They originate from human activities and come through point and non-point sources. In the case of point sources, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) must remove these stressors before discharge into water bodies. Driven by population increase and climate change, wastewater treatment objectives have become more stringent to ensure clean water, requiring extensive removal of nutrients and other pollutants.
This proposed research project will be performed to understand accuracy/reliability of consumer wearable technologies for health and sport applications. There is an emerging and growing need in the health and life sciences markets to use wearable technology to monitor physiologic and movement related signals and understand how this data is related to health outcomes. The first step is to understand how accurate the data is and the next step would be to understand the meaning of the data, related to health outcomes.
Response to an oil spill involving wildlife can be challenging in the Pacific Northwest. The terrain, weather and remoteness of many locations are all elements to be considered when determining an effective response strategy. A goal of a wildlife response team is to be as prepared as possible when responding to an incident. The animals present at any particular time depend on factors such as migration, breeding, and food abundance. Using existing studies, environmental sensitivity maps and novel research, we will enable the best wildlife response at a given time of year at a given location.