[Back to Meeting 2003]

Biology of the Canadian Arctic

Organized by
Saber Saleuddin, Rudy Boonstra and David Hik

Canada's North occupies about 50% of the country's landmass and accounts for two thirds of its coastline, but is home to only 1% of the population. It is a unique and sensitive environment, facing unprecedented social, physical, and environmental challenges. Over the last few years, the North has undergone enormous change. Economic development has accelerated, along with regional and self-government. Two long term, persistent, and pervasive changes are affecting northern environments simultaneously: global climate change and contamination of virtually all natural habitats by chemicals of anthropogenic origin. Both may have a wide range of ecologically and physiologically significant effects on populations and these will cascade upwards to communities and ecosystems. Our understanding of the biology and ecology of northern Canadian ecosystems is limited. Alternations to the distribution, abundance, and behavior of Arctic species and their habitats will profoundly change the Arctic as we know it. The symposium will focus on the adaptations of these organisms and their predicted responses to this changing environment. It will be organized around the major ecosystems in the Arctic. Canada's North, as part of the circumpolar region, shares an interest in and a responsibility for contributing to solutions to global problems such as global climate change, transboundary pollutants, and conservation of wildlife and habitat.

Tentative list of speakers:

Tom Hutchinson, Trent University: Global change and ecological processes in the Arctic

Stress in the Arctic
Rudy Boonstra, U Toronto: Stress responses of mammals and birds to severe environments.
Susan Kutz, U Saskatoon: Emerging parasitic infection of Arctic ungulates
Evan Cooch, Cornell U: Measuring the impacts of environmental change
Bob Jefferies, U Toronto: Trophic cascades in Arctic ecosystems
Paul Paquet, WWF: Carnivores of the central Arctic: cumulative effects and conservation
Murray Humphries, McGill U: Implication of range extensions of southern mammals

Marine and Freshwater Communities
Andy Derocher, U Alberta: Marine mammals in a dynamic ice environment
Derek Muir, National Water Research Institute: Contaminants in marine environments
Warwick Vincent, U Laval: Effects of climate change in freshwater ecosystems
Paul Hebert, U Guelph: Ecology and evolution of Arctic cladocerans

Terrestrial Communities
Gilles Gauthier, U Laval: Ecology of Greater Snow Geese on Bylot Island
Don Russell, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse: Rangifer populations in a changing tundra environment
Hugh Danks, Biological Survey of Canada: Seasonal adaptations in Arctic insects.
Kathy Martin, UBC: Constraints on reproduction in alpine and arctic birds

David Hik, U Alberta: The future of biological research in the Canadian Arctic: where to from here?
General Discussion