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ESC Blog Classifieds – U Winnipeg MSc Opportunity Rearing Endangered Butterflies

MSc Graduate Student Opportunity in the Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg

Project title: Developing a laboratory rearing technique for the endangered Poweshiek skipperling and assessing the feasibility of introduction into tall grass prairie habitats in Manitoba.

Objectives: The Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) is an Endangered butterfly species that is in critical danger of becoming extinct. Less than 500 individuals remain in the wild and the grasslands of southeastern Manitoba represent one of the species’ last strongholds. The species inhabits remnant patches of tall-grass prairie and in the past 10 years has greatly declined across its historical range. Working at both the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg and the University of Winnipeg, the student will help develop laboratory rearing techniques and to determine the feasibility of reintroducing the Poweshiek skipperling into tall grass prairie sites where it has been extirpated or new potential prairie habitat. The student will study life history factors (such as mortality and survivorship of various development stages) and evaluate potential tall grass prairie sites for reintroduction. This study is in coordination with the University of Winnipeg, Assiniboine Park Zoo, and Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

See flyer for further details and how to apply.

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Ancient spiders from an ancient forest

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Ever wish you could travel back through time and see a west coast Vancouver Island rainforest before industrial logging? To see huge old trees, intact soils and life in a climax ecosystem? You do not have to invent a time machine, you only need to travel about an hour out of Port Renfrew to the spectacular Walbran Valley.

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As part of an effort to document the biodiversity of the valley, I traveled with fellow arachnologists Claudia Copley, Darren Copley, Zoe Lindo, and Catherine Scott, along with birders, mycologists, lichenologists and assorted volunteers to spend a day among the giant trees. We were there at the invitation of the Friends of Carmanah-Walbran to lend our expertise to the effort of catloguing the biodiversity of this beautiful, yet still at-risk west coast habitat.

We arrived at the somewhat storied “Bridge to Nowhere”, where in 1991 environmental protesters confronted the logging companies, the RCMP and the government of British Columbia, holding the line against industrial exploitation of a rare ecosystem. What the activists were asking for seems modest: Can’t we have just this one watershed, among all the others on Vancouver Island, be preserved and protected from the clearcutting and degradation that is the fate of every other valley on the Island?

20170528-IMG_00212. Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones walks across the Bridge to Nowhere

While the Friends of Carmanah-Walbran took the other participants deep into the woods on hikes, we arachnologists ventured only short distances into the woods, as our slow and careful sifting through the soil and beating of the bushes is certainly not a thrill ride for everyone. For us, however, it was thrilling, as within 30 minutes of arrival on site, we had found a beautiful and seemingly dense population of Hexura picea, a relative of tarantulas.

20170528-IMG_00803. Hexura picea, a tarantula relative, brought out of its underground silk tunnel complex for a photo shoot.

These little, pretty, but nondescript spiders live in small silk tunnel complexes among the soil and rocks of the forest floor. Each tunnel has a main entrance lined with silk, and several other openings which may facilitate rapid escape or offer alternate exits at which to snare prey. Being members of the suborder Mygalomorphae, they are indeed tarantula relatives, a group of spiders that closely resemble ancient spiders. Many mygalomorphs retain traces of segmentation on their abdomens, unlike the more modern araneomorph spiders. In the Mecicobothriidae (to which Hexura belongs) the terminal spinneret segments bear “pseudosegmentation”

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The section of forest we found this spider in was a real “tangled bank”, in fact the scree slope associated with Walbran creek and a small tributary, which has since been covered with a layer of soil and a stand of hardy trees.

20170528-IMG_00574. Erosion is a gentler process in a forested valley, with trees holding on to what would be a talus slope higher in the mountains. The soils beneath these trees support an extensive food web.

Finding these spiders in the Walbran was not unexpected, as they had previously been found in the Carmanah Valley and at Avatar Grove, but their presence on Vancouver Island is somewhat puzzling, as they represent the only known Canadian population, and are seemingly not present on the BC mainland.

Given the dense population in the Walbran, the valley would be an wonderful place to study their behaviour, which so far is undocumented. We would presume that much of the activity of these spiders takes place at night, although Catherine was able to lure one out of its burrow by tickling the silken doormat with a twig.

20170528-IMG_01115. Hexura picea emerges from its silken tunnel and onto its “doormat” to “kill” a vibrating cedar twig.

The litter sampling we conducted will surely yield many more species, although we have to wait until the Berlese funnels have extracted all of the arthropods. The work of sampling and cataloguing biodiversity takes time, and is not totally congruent with the rapid “bioblitz” ethos.

If you are ever in BC, and want a trip back in time (never mind our politics), please do not hesitate to come out to the Walbran Valley. You may just discover something amazing.

20170528-IMG_02486. Darren and Claudia picking up pan traps beside the Malaise flight-intercept trap.

 

 

 

 

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ESC Blog Classifieds: Greenhouse Entomologist (Beneficial Insects)

Great Lakes Greenhouses (Leamington, ON) is seeking a full-time entomologist to aid in the development and implementation of rearing protocols for the production of beneficial insects used in the greenhouse industry. Knowledge and experience with experimental design, statistical analysis, beneficial insect propagation and maintenance, and the ability to perform independent research are all necessary to succeed in this position.

Great Lakes Greenhouses has been a family owned and operated hydroponic vegetable grower in Leamington, Ontario since 1983. Our original 2-1/2 acre greenhouse operation has evolved into an environmentally friendly 90 acre state of the art facility that propagates, grows, packages and ships more Long English seedless cucumbers on a year round basis than any other greenhouse operation in North America. Due to our commodity share hold in the market and our Primus Certified Food Safety designation for both our greenhouse and packing operations, our cucumbers have reached most major retailers’ shelves across the USA and Canada. 

See full job ad for more details, and send resumes to James Tetreault (james@greatlakesg.com) to apply.

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Don’t read this article

I will admit that the headline was thoroughly and completely “click bait”. That’s because I was worried that “The new ESC Science Policy Committee and its mandate” would have you move along to the next article. And I hope that giving you the goods now on what this article is about doesn’t cause that right… now.

For those of you who are still with me, and I hope that is a majority of our members, I am aware that policy is not generally considered an exciting topic. But in this era of climate change, environmental degradation, increasing population pressure on our agricultural and silvicultural output, emergent and spreading vector-borne diseases, research funding challenges, and rapidly shifting politics in Canada and many of our largest trading partners, we as entomologists cannot merely sit back and let policy happen. We need to engage with policy makers to encourage careful decision making with the long view in mind.

Our diverse Society membership has an equally diverse set of skills and perspectives to offer to Canadians and the rest of the world. But engagement can only happen if we are willing to put fingers on the pulse of various issues, and to collaboratively marshal responses to issues as they begin to emerge. In other words, we can only be effective if we are able to anticipate in time and react with collective care and wisdom.

Over the past many years, the ESC has maintained a Science Policy and Education Committee. That committee has been effective in many areas including over the past several years:

  • expressing concern to the federal government about travel restrictions on federal scientists wishing to attend ESC meetings,
  • encouraging the continued support of the Experimental Lakes Area,
  • responding to NSERC consultations, and
  • drafting the ESC Policy Statement on Biodiversity Access and Benefit Sharing which was later adopted by our Society.

However, because the combination of both public education and public policy was a substantial and growing mandate, the ESC Executive Council Committee decided in 2015 to split the committee into two, each part taking care of one of the two former aspects.

In October 2016 I was asked to chair and help to formulate the new ESC Science Policy Committee. Your committee now consists of (in alphabetical order):

  • Patrice Bouchard (ESC First VP, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
  • Crystal Ernst (appointed member, postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University)
  • Neil Holliday, (ESC President, ex officio committee member, University of Manitoba)
  • Dezene Huber (appointed member as academic representative, Chair 2016/2017, University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Fiona Hunter (ESC Second VP, Brock University)
  • Rachel Rix (appointed member and student and early professional representative, Dalhousie University)
  • Amanda Roe (appointed member as government representative, Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service)

Each executive member’s term is specified by their ESC executive term. Each appointed member is a member for up to 3 years. The Chair position is appointed on a yearly basis. The terms of reference specify that the committee should contain members “who (represent) the Student (and Early Professional) Affairs Committee, and preferably one professional entomologist employed in government service and one employed in academia.

We are officially tasked “(t)o monitor government, industry and NGO science policies, to advise the Society when the science of entomology and our Members are affected, and to undertake tasks assigned by the Board that are designed to interpret, guide, or shift science policy.”

We are now working on putting together an agenda, and have started to work on a few items. For instance, you may recall an eBlast requesting participation in Canada’s Fundamental Science Review that was initiated by Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. We hope that some of you took the opportunity to send your thoughts to the federal government.

As we develop an agenda, we would like to consult with you, the ESC membership. Please tell us:

  • What policy-related issues do you see emerging in your area of study, your realm of employment, or in the place that you live?
  • How might the ESC Science Policy Committee integrate better with your concerns and those of the rest of the membership? 
  • How can our Society be more consultative and responsive to the membership and to issues as they arise?
  • Who are the people and organizations with which ESC should be working closely on science policy issues?
  • How can you be a part of science policy development, particularly as it relates to entomological practice and service in Canada and abroad?

 

Please email me at huber@unbc.ca with your thoughts, questions, and ideas. We know that many of you are already involved in this type of work, and we hope that we can act as synergists to your efforts and that you can help to further energize ours.

 

Dr. Dezene Huber

Chair, ESC Science Policy Committee

This article also appears in the March 2017 ESC Bulletin, Vol 48(1).

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ESC Blog Classifieds – MSc Positions at U Manitoba

Dr. Alejandro Costamagna, along with Dr. Harry Sapirstein, are advertising 2 MSc opportunities in agricultural entomology in the Department of Entomology at the University of Manitoba:

Effects of Midge Damage on Gluten Strength of Resistant and Susceptible Wheat Genotypes

Determining the role of crop and non-crop habitats to provide sustainable aphid suppression in soybeans

Deadline for applications is March 15, 2017. Contact Dr. Costamagna for more information or to apply.

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Student Field Research Assistants (Horticulture Crops, OMAFRA)

“Are you serious about making your mark, getting hands-on work experience and learning more about careers in the Ontario Public Service? These positions at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph, Ontario will provide an excellent opportunity for those interested in a career in horticulture crop production, pest management, research or the agricultural service sector. Crops may include fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. These positions will provide the opportunity to learn about horticulture crop production, plant diseases, insect pests, integrated pest management (IPM) and agronomy in the horticulture crop sectors within the province. Training will be provided on research methods, technology transfer and working in the public sector.”

Six temporary positions based in Guelph, Ontario for up to 18 weeks are available. Closing date is February 2, 2017. See flyer for more details and how to apply.

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Indigenous Scholar, Assistant Professor @ University of Manitoba

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba invites applications from Indigenous (e.g., First Nations, Métis, Inuit) Scholars for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor, commencing July 1, 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter, in one of the following broad disciplines: Agricultural Business/Economics; Food/Nutritional Sciences; or Agricultural Production/Ecology. Identification of a specific Department (Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, Animal Science, Biosystems Engineering, Entomology, Food Science, Human Nutritional Sciences, Plant Science, Soil Science) will be based on the area of specialty of the successful candidate. The position will be weighted at approximately 45% teaching, 40% research and 15% service/outreach. Qualified applicants must possess: a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline; a record of independent research as demonstrated by scholarly publications; the potential for developing an active externally-funded research program including supervision of graduate students; demonstrated ability or potential for excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching; and excellent oral and written communication skills. The successful candidate will be required to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in their area of expertise with inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and approaches. We also envisage that the Scholar will work closely with other instructors to help include Indigenous knowledge and perspectives for all students.

Closing date for applications is February 27, 2017.

For more information & how to apply, see this flyer (PDF).

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ESC Blog Classifieds – Research Assistant, AAFC Saskatoon

Interested in working with agricultural research entomologists in Saskatchewan? Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is hiring!

 

Research Assistant – Entomology

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Science and Technology Branch Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)

Permanent Full Time // Temporary part time // $55,840 to $67,936 (Salary under review)

Closing date: 7 December 2016 – 23:59, Pacific Time

Who can apply: Persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.

More information & application

Duties

-Assist in the development, adaptation, and implementation of protocols to collect research data on insect pest impact and management in field and controlled conditions
-identify insect pests of field crops and their natural enemies
-rear insects in laboratory and field cages
-adapt lab and field equipment and protocols as required to meet research needs
-assist with the planning and execution of surveys for invasive insect pests and their natural enemies
-summarize data and assist with preparation of reports, extension materials, presentations, and research articles
-assist with staffing of students, train students, and coordinate their work
-procure and manage laboratory and field supplies

 

Learn more about this position and apply on the AAFC website.

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Leonard, the insects and me

 

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By Rama – Commons file, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53046764

 

Last winter, I spent a few months working on insect identifications for the BC Conservation Data Centre, mostly collections of insects made at newly-acquired conservation lands in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions of BC.

As I had no laboratory of my own, and no reference collections to work with, I was working out of the ROM, back behind Antonia Guidotti’s office in the entomology workroom. This place, in midwinter, is usually a little lonely, as Antonia has a lot of work to do all around the collection. And so mostly in solitude, I would sit there at my microscope,  stumbling through insect IDs, learning what I could about a vast array of taxa, and listening to an inordinate amount of Leonard Cohen’s music.

Somehow, I feel the mood of Leonard Cohen’s later works lends itself so well to solitary entomology pursuits. The consummate outsider, looking closely and inwardly at the human condition, and yet always so aware of a wider world, Leonard’s music has many parallels to sitting at a scope, baffled by Nature’s  diversity and wondering how it all fits together.

(As an aside, when I was going through scads of unfortunate, dead, trapped insects, the song “Who by Fire” seemed morbidly appropriate)

Occasionally, from the lab bench, I would reach out to the other folks online, sharing my discoveries through Twitter (the entomology workroom has a modest wireless connection!).

How excited I was, having lived in BC most my life to discover the wonderful piglet bug Bruchomorpha beameri, a wonderful fulgoroid planthopper that I had no idea even existed before taking this contract!

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It was heartening, sitting there alone, singing softly along to Leonard Cohen that people out there on Twitter responded so well to my excitement at discovering these treasures, and offering helpful advice. Terry Wheeler  was especially helpful when I was stumbling over some puzzling scathophagids from the Peace District.

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Connecting with people like Terry, who encouraged me through my ID struggles made me feel that despite being on the outer edges of my knowledge and what could reasonably be called paid employment in entomology, people cared about what I was doing and were there if I needed them.

With the help of Terry, Antonia, Laura Timms, Lu Musetti, and the great Leonard Cohen, I struggled my way through my contract, and my first eastern winter. Last week, Leonard Cohen died, leaving a huge hole in Canadian songwriting. We still have his recordings and poems to keep us company, though no matter what we are doing.

On Tuesday, I will head back to the ROM as a volunteer, to help sort out some of the ant collection, to the best of my ability. Perhaps I will listen to some of Leonard Cohen’s music, and tweet out some of what I find to connect me and my entomology work to the wider world.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW7oNpzBSGc&w=560&h=480]

 

 

 

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ESC Blog Classifieds: Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist

The Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University seeks outstanding candidates for a full-time, nine month, tenure track position titled: Extension Specialist—Vegetable and Specialty Seed Crops. The position is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) located in Aurora, OR—about 90 minutes north of Corvallis, OR and Oregon State University’s main campus. The position is at the assistant professor rank.

We seek an individual that will develop a regionally and nationally recognized, Extension outreach and research program in support of the fresh and processed vegetable and specialty seed crop industries. Extramural funding generated by the incumbent will help support this position and grow capacity. The appointment is 50% Extension, 30% research, 15% scholarship, and 5% service. Potential areas of emphasis could include, but are not limited to: pest management, irrigation, soil fertility and nutrient management, production science, food safety, marketing, environmental monitoring, technology and automation. The incumbent will be expected publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals and present at professional meetings. Also, the incumbent will be expected to work closely with other OSU faculty—on campus and off-campus who support vegetable and specialty seed crop research, teaching, Extension and outreach.

See flyer for more details & how to apply. Deadline November 20, 2016.