Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Abstracts - Environmental Science Seminar Series

Winter 2018

View the full seminar schedule.

DateSpeakerTitle and Abstract
January 25 Dan Slavik

Title: Arctic conservation in the 21st century: perspectives from the tundra

Abstract: From meeting with Elders and hunters in remote villages to discussing polar bear health, to attending Arctic Council meetings on oil spill impacts, it’s all-in-a-week’s work for those on the front-lines of Arctic environmental conservation. Based on personal experiences, this lecture will provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges for Arctic conservation within a changing climate and complex socio-political environment

February 1

Dr Jennifer Foote

Title: In the still of the night: nocturnal singing by two diurnal passerines

Abstract: Many diurnal birds sing sporadically or regularly at night; however, the functions of nocturnal song are not well-understood. My lab studies nocturnal song of ovenbirds and white-throated sparrows in Northern Ontario using both observational and experimental studies in order to better understand why birds sing at night. Our results show clear seasonal and nightly patterns of singing activity and suggest an intersexual function. We also show that song output relates to both light levels and weather

February 15 Jessica Currie

Title: Living Planet Report Canada

Abstract: In Canada, we are home to a vast wilderness in which many of us take pride. Consequently, it is easy to assume shocking figures of wildlife decline don’t apply within our country. Using the Living Planet Index (LPI) methodology developed by the Zoological Society of London and WWF-International, WWF-Canada set out to determine how populations of vertebrate species are faring within national borders. Sadly, our research shows wildlife populations in Canada are in serious decline. Even more surprising, the numbers for at-risk species, those protected by law, are just as bad – if not worse. In order to reverse that decline, Canadians need ramp up conservation efforts to prevent wildlife loss and recover at-risk species.

March 1
MSc students
MSc Showcase
Please join us for the annual showcase of 4 minute oral presentations followed by posters by students in the MSc Environmental Sciences program
March 8
Dr Eric Bottos

Title: Resolving ecological controls on permafrost microbial communities and responses to thaw

Absrtact: Permafrost environments represent an important microbial ecosystem and a globally significant pool of sequestered carbon, which is being mobilized as climate warming increases permafrost thaw. While the fate of this carbon remains uncertain, it will likely be strongly dependent on properties of the resident microbial communities and the local soil conditions. This presentation describes a series of experiments aimed at resolving the ecological controls on permafrost microbial communities as well as the responses of this community to thaw.Our findings suggest that permafrost microbial communities are shaped by ecological controls that are distinct from those governing non-permafrost soil communities, and that these controls may ultimately influence ecosystem responses to thaw.

March 15 Dr Wesley Zandberg 

Title: Developing analytical methods to determine the potential for forest fire-exposed grapes to yield “smoke-tainted” wines

Abstract: In addition to environmental and property damage, the frequent forest fires occurring in BC also pose a serious threat to BC’s grape/wine industry in the form of “smoke-taint”. Smoke-taint occurs when wines are made from grapes exposed to smoke during the ripening process. Though the compounds responsible for the odor of smoke are known, these are quickly linked to diverse sugars within grapes, a process that masks their odor and prevents their detection by most analytical techniques. Fermentation releases these sugar-bound aroma compounds. This talk will discuss our lab’s efforts to determine smoke-taint potential without performing fermentations.

March 29 Dr Andrew Leach

Title: Will action on climate change strand the oil sands?

Abstract:This research looks at the link between domestic and global climate change policies, targeted anti-oil sands measures, and global financial disclosure and divestment efforts and the viability of oil sands investments. While domestic climate policies get most of the attention in terms of potential impacts on oil sands development, I find that targeted policies which reduce market access as well as global actions impacting oil demand are likely to have more material impacts on oil sands development.

April 5
Lincoln Best

Title: Native bee diversity: A history of melittology in the Thompson

Abstract: The diversity of native bees and their role in pollination is critical in terrestrial and agro-ecosystems. Here we will examine the history of the study of native bee biodiversity in the Thompson. The development of transportation infrastructure in the southern Interior and research capacity at the Kamloops Range Research Station provided the means for early investigations by many notable pioneers in Canadian entomology. We find that the Thompson supports one of most diverse, and least well known faunas in Canada, and is home to many unique and charismatic native bee species.