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Five symposia are planned for the 2015 meeting in Saskatoon from May 22nd to May 24th. The theme of the meeting is ‘Ecology and evolution in managed landscapes’. The list of speakers for each symposium is now available. Please note that the titles of the presentations are subject to change. 

Using Species Interactions to Predict and Manage Novel Ecosystems

Interactions between species are the driving force between the dynamics of ecological communities, both locally and at large spatial scales; yet they have often been overlooked, in favour of approaches based on measuring species richness. Research over the last years revealed that the structure of ecological interactions can be instrumental in making predictions of emerging ecosystem properties, such as functioning, resistance to invasions or extinctions, and stability. Accounting for the structure of species interactions is needed to design applied management programs, as well as in a more fundamental research effort to understand how novel ecosystems will emerge under global changes, and what their functions will be. Canadian ecosystems, in particular, are especially vulnerable to these changes. Because of their northern position, they combine (i) unique species, (ii) high pressure due to the poleward migration of species, and (iii) limited ability for species to track their optimal climatic niche through space. Predicting how these future ecosystems will be organized, what their properties will be, and determining the information that is needed for efficient management, requires a concerted research effort between applied and fundamental sciences. The talks in this symposium will give a multidisciplinary overview of the state of the art of these approaches, building on empirical and theoretical approaches. The speakers are predominantly early-career scientists with a demonstrated expertise of either applied or fundamental research on Canadian ecosystems, represent a variety of disciplines (functional, community, landscape ecology, and biogeography), systems (pollination, food webs, microbial systems, insect interactions), and work at spatial scales ranging from a single site to continental gradients. This will ensure that the symposium is appealing to a broad audience.


Timothée Poisot, Université de Montréal, Département de Sciences Biologiques (tim@poisotlab.io, http://timotheepoisot.fr/)

Understanding Individuals to Conserve Populations

Individual animals differ in their morphology, physiology, and behaviour but should we consider this variability when aiming to conserve or manage wildlife populations? Numerous studies on movement have shown considerable variability in migration and dispersal patterns within a single population. There is evidence that individuals employ alternative foraging patterns and diet selection despite being exposed to the same resources. Similarly, individuals in the same environment can differ in the degree of risk avoidance, including the initial response to risk, and the learning or habituation to these stressors that follows. Such intraspecific variability may translate into fitness variability across the population - it is in fact an essential ingredient for evolution by natural selection. The question remains however, as to whether this variability can help explain and predict population-level patterns, such as demographic rates or spatial distribution, and if so, when and how.

Speakers for this symposium will share their research dealing with intraspecific variability in wildlife occupying disturbed or managed landscapes in relation to the approaches used to explore individual differences and implications for population level conservation practices. We will explore the aspects of incorporating individual variability, the benefits and challenges of doing so, and the conservation decisions that follow.


Christina M. Prokopenko, University of Alberta, Department of Biology, M.Sc. student (prokopen@ualberta.ca)

Tal Avgar, University of Alberta, Department of biology, PDF (avgar@ualberta.ca)

Mark S. Boyce, University of Alberta, Department of Biology (mark.boyce@ualberta.ca / http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/faculty/mark_boyce/)

Speakers list:

Tal Avgar and Christina Prokopenko (University of Alberta) – Introduction

David Coltman (University of Alberta) – Disentangling environmental and genetic responses of the condition of Western Hudson Bay polar bears to a rapidly changing environment

Marco Festa-Bianchet (Université de Sherbrooke) – How differences in age distribution, inbreeding and occurrence of specialist predators affect dynamics of small populations of ungulates

Andrew McAdam (University of Guelph) – Lessons learned from evolutionary biology and inter-individual variance in fitness

John Fryxell (University of Guelph) – Variation in mortality risk by woodland caribou due to movement

Denis Réale (Université du Québec à Montréal) – The pace of life syndrome and its consequences for management and conservation of wild populations.

Mark Boyce (University of Alberta) – Black bears foraging on the Tangled Bank

Frontiers in Resource and Habitat Selection

One of the greatest challenges in ecology is predicting the distribution and abundance of species. At the levels of the population and individual, the study of resource and habitat selection by animals has, over the past two decades, attracted much attention. In part this has been due to the incorporation of new technologies to collect precise data on animal movements, in large amounts, through devices such as GPS-capable tracking devices. Further, the toolset of statistics now available to analyze complex datasets generated by GPS-tracking data has expanded considerably, moving from frequentist (traditional) statistics and simple ratios of animal use vs. availability, to the development of increasingly complex models better suited to the data with a focus on using information-theoretic approaches to model selection. However, additional interest has also been generated by a renewed appreciation for the evolutionary basis of habitat selection: decisions on resource and habitat use are indeed behaviours that can and should be under selective pressure. The result has been a flurry of empirically testing of some of the foundations of habitat selection and foraging theory using all the new tools at our disposal.

The question we raise to open our symposium is one of “where do we go from here?” Should we continue down the path of refining our statistical methods to deal with increasing amounts of data on how species use habitat; revisit established theories and expand on them, or what can we do to develop new theory; what can we do to advance our understanding of adaptive and maladaptive resource and habitat selection? While we are not convinced that we need new technologies and more data to answer questions, it is fair to say that as a community of researchers there is much more to be done with respect to developing and applying our understanding of how and why animals selectively use resources and habitat. Our hope is to produce a symposium with contributions that are ideas-driven, rather than focusing on methodology.


Eric Vander Wal, Memorial University, Department of Biology (eric.vanderwal@mun.ca / http://ericvanderwal.weebly.com/)

Philip McLoughlin, University of Saskatchewan, Department of Biology (philip.mcloughlin@usask.ca / http://mcloughlinlab.ca/lab/)

Evolution of Crop Plants: A Genomics Perspective

Recent advances in genomics have opened many new avenues to address questions about evolution of crop plant species and have advanced our understanding of crop domestication. It is timely to organize such symposium for CSEE to reflect the advances in current research and understanding of crop evolution and to stimulate more research taking advantage of next generation sequencing technologies. This symposium is also of significance for CSEE, as Canadian agriculture and crop production have played an important role in Canadian economy and continue to be evolving with changing climate. Understanding crop evolution is a key for Darwinian agriculture.

The symposium will consist of ten talks, mainly on evolution of several crops inferred from advanced genomics tools, evolutionary thoughts on plant domestication, and consequences of plant domestication. The invited speakers include both established leaders and rising stars in the area of plant domestication research and represent a diversity of perspectives and plant groups. We believe this symposium is within the 2015 meeting theme of Ecology and Evolution in Managed Landscapes and will contribute to CSEE in pursuit of diverse evolutionary research avenues, particularly associated with Darwinian agriculture.


Loren Rieseberg, University of British Columbia, Department of Botany (loren.rieseberg@botany.ubc.ca / http://rieseberglab.botany.ubc.ca/)

Yong-Bi Fu, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon (yong-bi.fu@agr.gc.ca)

Speakers list:

Helen Jensen (The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, USC-Canada, Montreal) – Evolution of crop species: genetics of domestication and diversification

Briana Gross (University of Minnesota Duluth) – Domestication genetics and parallel evolution of African and Asian rice

Ana Caicedo (University of Massachusetts Amherst) – Evolution of US weedy rice

Isobel Parkin (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon) – Early allopolyploid evolution in Brassica napus oilseed genome

Greg Baute (University of British Columbia) – Genomics of Sunflower Domestication

Paul Gepts (University of California Davis) – The PvTFL1y locus for determinacy in common bean: the origin of mutations in crop evolution

Axel Diederichsen (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon) – Crop evolution: Vavilovian centers of crop origins

Marc Johnson (University of Toronto-Mississauga) – Impact of crop domestication on resistance to herbivores

Sahal Abbo (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) – Plant domestication versus crop evolution: a conceptual framework for cereals and grain legumes

Robin Allaby (University of Warwick, UK) – Archaeogenomic and computational approaches to unravelling the evolution of crop domestication

Wildlife Biologging: Advancements in the Study of Animal Ecology and Energetics

Biologging is defined as “the use of miniaturized animal-attached tags for logging and/or relaying data about an animal’s movements, behaviour, physiology and/or environment”. The advent of such biologging technology over the past few decades has dramatically improved our ability to answer questions about how free-ranging animals exist in their natural environment. On-board dataloggers have allowed investigation of a range of biological phenomena (i.e., behaviour, physiology, energetics) on multiple spatial, temporal, and biological scales. In addition to providing critical information on the ecology of a variety of animals, biologging data are increasingly being applied to management and conservation policy of threatened species. This symposium aims to provide examples of the variety of biologging technologies that exist and, primarily, to open discussion on the range of questions that can be investigated. The technologies used by our list of speakers are varied, recording both aspects of the individual and the surrounding environment, including spatial locations, acceleration, light, sound, temperature, and heart rate. As technological devices only continue to develop in the fields of ecology and energetics, we aim to provide a glimpse into the broad and exciting application of biologging and reveal that it is only limited by the creativity of the user.


Allyson Menzies, McGill University, Department of Biology, PhD candidate (allyson.menzies@mail.mcgill.ca)

Emily Studd, McGill University, Department of Biology, PhD candidate (emily.studd@mail.mcgill.ca)

Murray Humphries, McGill University, Department of Biology (murray.humphries@mcgill.ca / http://murray-humphries.lab.mcgill.ca/)

Speakers list:

Murray Humphries, Allyson Menzies and Emily Studd (McGill University) – Biologging species components of a boreal food web across space and time

Craig Willis (University of Winnipeg) – Biologging on bats: Using technology to tackle White Nose Syndrome

David Rosen (University of British Columbia) – Remote measurements of energy expenditure in freely diving sea lions: what works and what doesn’t

Fanie Pelletier (Université de Sherbrooke) – Using proximity loggers to study social behaviour of wild animals

Jake Brownscombe (Carleton University) – Using accelerometer biologgers for basic and applied science in aquatic environments

Cory Williams (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) – Using biologging to assess plasticity in daily and seasonal timing of free-living vertebrates

Susan Heaslip (Dalhousie University) – Using animal-borne cameras to study the foraging behaviour of large marine predators

Mason Stothart (University of Guelph) – Counting Calories in Cormorants: Using accelerometers to measure daily energy expenditure

Susan Gallon (University of Glasgow) – Catastrophic moult in Southern elephant seals: the cost of losing it all

Erin Bayne (University of Alberta) – Development of an Automated Acoustic Monitoring Network