On January 1, 2022 the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) signed a Read-Publish (R-P) agreement with Cambridge University Press (CUP), the publisher of The Canadian Entomologist (TCE). R-P agreements provide unlimited reading and Open Access publishing at no cost to authors affiliated with participating institutions. The CRKN represents 42 academic institutions across Canada. CUP has also now signed similar agreements with a large number of institutions around the world.
This is a significant development for TCE and provides an unprecedented opportunity for our members and anyone else associated with those institutions to read and publish Open Access articles at no cost to their research programs in our journal. Affiliation of the corresponding author – including adjunct affiliation as demonstrated by an institutional email address – determines the applicability of the R-P agreement.
For more information please see below:
Announcement of the Read-Publish Agreement between CRKN and CUP: https://www.crkn-rcdr.ca/en/crkn-announces-transformative-agreement-cambridge-university-press.
Check on Open Access Agreements at your institution in Canada or elsewhere: https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/open-access-policies/waivers-discounts
An exciting new position for an M.Sc. student is available through a multidisciplinary research program
involving researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta and the
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute.
The successful applicant will contribute to the local and regional biodiversity assessment of Edmonton,
Alberta, and surrounding areas to assess potential introductions and dispersal mechanisms of oribatid
mites. Research will include work on the systematics and taxonomy of the Galumnoidea of Alberta.
The successful candidate will have a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree or equivalent by August 2022.
Desired skills include experience identifying small invertebrates using dissecting and light microscopy.
The candidate must be academically competitive and expected to work with a network of acarologists,
entomologists, and biodiversity scientists across Canada, and with oribatid experts outside of Canada as
The stipend is for 2.3 years with an annual amount of approximately $25,197, part of which will come
from teaching assistantships. The candidate’s M.Sc. program will be based in the Department of
Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The candidate must either be a Canadian
citizen or have residency approval to start the program in September 2022.
See flyer for more information including application procedures, and contact Dr. Lisa Lumley
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Heather Proctor (email@example.com) for additional information and questions.
Deadline to apply is 15 January, 2022.
Graduate Student Showcase 2021: Call for Applications
Graduate students are invited to apply to present their research at the Graduate Student Showcase (GSS), held during the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Canada and the Entomological Society of Ontario (Nov 15-18, 2021). The purpose of the GSS is to provide a high-profile opportunity for graduate students near the completion of their degrees to present a more in-depth overview of their thesis research.
Applicants to the GSS must:
- have defended or plan to defend their thesis at a Canadian University within one year of the meeting
- be the principal investigator and principal author of the presented work
- be registered at the meeting
Eligible candidates who wish to be considered for the GSS must submit a complete application to firstname.lastname@example.org, following the instructions below. Items 1-3 must be submitted in a single PDF file named in the format “FamilyName_GSSapplication.pdf”.
1) Submit a 250 word abstract describing the proposed presentation highlighting their work,
2) Submit a 1 page (single-spaced, 12 point) outline of their research, including rationale/significance, methodology, and results to date,
3) Include a CV that includes a list of previous conference presentations and other presentation experience.
4) Arrange to have the principal supervisor email a letter of support in a PDF file that confirms the anticipated or actual date of graduation and comments on the proposed presentation and the applicant’s presentation and research abilities. Please ask your supervisor to name the letter of support in the format “FamilyName_GSSLetterOfSupport.pdf”, where Family Name is the applicant’s family name.
In addition to the above materials, applicants are welcome – but by no means required – to submit supplementary information about any factors that may have influenced their application (e.g., factors that may have limited access to publication or presentation opportunities). Please note that the supplementary information will be considered confidential, being viewed exclusively by members of the Graduate Student Showcase Selection Committee.
The GSS application deadline falls on the same day as the annual meeting deadline for contributed talks. For the 2021 GSS, all application materials must be submitted by September 13, 2021. We will select up to four (4) recipients. All applicants will be notified of the status of their application. Unsuccessful applicants to the GSS will have their talks automatically moved to a President’s Prize Oral session.
Differences between the GSS and the President’s Prize (PP) Competition include:
- The GSS will take place in its own dedicated time slot; there will be no conflicting talks!
- Presenters in the GSS are given more time to speak about their research (28 minutes total, 25 for the presentation & 3 for questions)
- Abstracts for talks presented in the GSS are published in the ESC Bulletin, an open access publication, received by all ESC members.
- The selection process for the GSS is competitive (only selected students speak), compared to the PP where all students who enter speak but only one per category receives a prize.
- All presenters in the GSS receive an honorarium of $200.
We encourage and welcome applications from all eligible individuals, especially those who identify with groups that are underrepresented in STEM and entomology. The Entomological Society of Canada values diversity in all its forms and seeks to represent the breadth of Canadian entomological research and researcher identities through its GSS. Supervisors, please encourage your students to apply and please help us to spread the word! Any questions can be directed to email@example.com.
Matt Muzzatti and Rowan French
Co-Chairs of ESC’s Student and Early Professional Affairs Committee (SEPAC)
ESC members are invited to a participate in a research study on interference with environmental research in Canada conducted by a Master’s Thesis student from the School of Resource and Environment Studies, at Dalhousie University.
Purpose: To document scientists’ perceptions of their ability to conduct and communicate environmental research in Canada.
Eligibility: If you are currently working in Canada in the field of environmental studies or sciences, you will be asked to answer questions about your work, personal demographics (e.g., career stage, gender, etc.) and to recount any experiences with interference in your ability to conduct or communicate your work.
This survey is anonymous. It should take you 20 – 30 minutes to complete.
Impact: Results from this academic research will be presented at national fora on science policy and decision-making and could have policy implications that will directly affect your future work.
Incentive: Participants who complete the survey will have the option to provide their email address to enter a draw and win one of three $50 gift cards or donations to the organization of their choice. Email addresses will be collected separately from the survey to maintain anonymity in responses and will be kept confidential.
The deadline to complete the survey is on or before 11:59pm ADT on Sunday, August 15, 2021.
Follow this link to the Survey: Interference in Science Survey Link
Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser: https://rowebusiness.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_aeHh5GmYXUMfoXk
If you have questions or concerns, please contact the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much. Your participation is important to us.
Manjulika E. Robertson
on behalf of the Westwood Lab
School for Resource and Environment Studies
Dalhousie University, Halifax (K’jipuktuk), Nova Scotia
Do insects feel pain? Many of us probably ask ourselves this question. We swat mosquitoes, step on ants, and spray poison on cockroaches, assuming, or perhaps hoping, that they can’t – but can they? As someone who studies the physiology behind insect behaviour, I’ve wondered about it myself. Those thoughts motivated me to examine the question from the perspective of evolution, neurobiology and robotics.
To find out whether insects feel pain, we first need to agree on what pain is. Pain is a personal subjective experience that includes negative emotions. Pain is different from nociception, which is the ability to respond to damaging stimuli. All organisms have nociception. Even bacteria can move away from harmful environments such as high pH. But not all animals feel pain. The question, then, is do insects have subjective experiences such as emotions and the ability to feel pain?
We’ve probably all observed insects struggling in a spider’s web or writhing after being sprayed with insecticide; they look like they might be in pain. Insects can also learn to avoid electric shocks, suggesting that they don’t like being shocked. However, just as I was appreciating how much some insect behaviour looked like our pain behaviour, I realized that Artificial Intelligence (e.g. robots and virtual characters) can also display similar behaviours (e.g. see (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxyGwH7Ku5Y). Think about how virtual characters can realistically express pain in video games such as “The Last of Us” (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQWD5W3fpPM). Researchers have developed circuits allowing robots and other AI to simulate emotional states (e.g. ‘joy’, ‘anger’, ‘fear’). These circuits alter how the robot/virtual character responds to its environment (i.e. the same stimulus produces a different response depending on the AI’s ‘emotion’). However, this does not mean that robots or virtual characters are ‘feeling’ these emotions. AI shows us that behaviour may not be the best guide to an insect’s internal experience.
Given that behaviour seemed an unreliable guide, I then looked for neurobiological evidence that insects feel pain. Unfortunately, the insect brain is very different from the human brain. However, once we understand how our brains perceive pain, we may be able to search for circuits that are functionally similar in insects. Research in humans suggests that pain perception is created by complex neural networks that link up the necessary brain areas. These types of networks require massive bidirectional connections across multiple brain regions. Insect brains also have interconnections across different brain areas. However, these interconnections are often quite modest. For example, the mushroom bodies in the insect brain are critical for learning and memory. Although the mushroom bodies contain thousands of neurons, in fruit flies, for example, they have only 21 output neurons. In humans, our memory area, the hippocampus, has hundreds of thousands of output neurons. The lack of output neurons in insects limits the ability of the insect brain to sew together the traits that create pain in us (e.g. sensory information, memory, and emotion).
Finally, I considered the question from an evolutionary perspective. How likely it is that evolution would select for insects to feel pain? In evolution, traits evolve if the benefits of a trait outweigh its costs. Unfortunately, nervous systems are expensive for animals. Insects have a small, economical, nervous system. Additional neurons dedicated to an ‘emotional’ neural circuit would be relatively expensive in terms of energetics and resources. If it is possible to produce the same behaviour without the cost, then evolution will select for the cheaper option. Robots show that there could be cheaper ways.
The subjective experience of pain is unlikely to be an all-or-none phenomenon. Asking whether insects feel pain forces us to consider what we would accept as a subjective experience of pain. What if it was devoid of emotional content? What if cognition is not involved? If insects have any type of subjective experience of pain, it is likely to be something that will be very different from our pain experience. It is likely to lack key features such as ‘distress’, ‘sadness’, and other states that require the synthesis of emotion, memory and cognition. In other words, insects are unlikely to feel pain as we understand it. So – should we still swat mosquitoes? Probably, but a case can be made that all animals deserve our respect, regardless of their ability to feel pain.
Adamo, S. (2019). Is it pain if it does not hurt? On the unlikelihood of insect pain. The Canadian Entomologist, 1-11. doi:10.4039/tce.2019.49 (Paper made available to read for FREE until Sept. 16, 2019 in cooperation with Cambridge University Press)
By Dr. Laurel Haavik, US Forest Service
Exotic species that establish, spread, and cause substantial damage are demonized as foreign invaders that charge with menacing force across the landscape. Rightly so; those pests threaten to displace or eliminate native species and alter ecosystem functions. Chestnut blight, emerald ash borer, and hemlock woolly adelgid are all excellent examples. What about invaders that aren’t so destructive? Or, at least don’t seem to be at the moment? At what point do we stop monitoring a seemingly innocuous invasive species, especially one that has proved itself a serious pest elsewhere? To make this decision, it’s helpful to know how much the species has affected its new habitat, and whether this impact already has or is likely to change over time. That is exactly what we set out to do with the European woodwasp, Sirex noctilio, in Ontario.
Nearly a decade after the woodwasp was first found in a trap near the Finger Lakes in New York (and then a year later across Lake Ontario in Sandbanks Provincial Park), it still hadn’t killed pines in noticeable numbers, either in the US or Canada. Native to Europe and Asia, this woodwasp has been introduced to several countries in the Southern Hemisphere, where it has been a serious pest in forests planted with exotic pines. By contrast, in North America, it seems that only the weakest trees, those that are already stressed by something else, are killed by the woodwasp. Would forests with many weakened trees allow populations of the woodwasp to build up enough that they could then kill healthy trees in well-maintained forests? Could we find any evidence that this had already happened or would likely happen in the future?
Our goal was to measure the impact the woodwasp has had in Ontario, and whether that has changed over time, by closely examining the same trees in pine forests every year. First, we had to find sites where the woodwasp could be found, which wasn’t every pine forest, and where landowners would allow us to work. We were not interested in sites that were well-managed, because research had already confirmed that the woodwasp was not present in those forests. We used records of positive woodwasp captures from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources trap survey as a guide. We visited 50 potential sites, and eventually selected eight for close scrutiny in our long-term study. These sites were areas where there was likely to be intense competition among trees for resources, with plenty of stressed trees for the woodwasp.
We visited all eight sites every fall from 2012 to 2016, after woodwasps had the opportunity to attack trees. Adult woodwasps mate and lay eggs, attacking trees in the process, in mid-summer. Attack was visible as distinctive resin beads scattered over the trunk. We recorded which trees had been attacked, and later (usually the following year) killed by the woodwasp.
The woodwasp population was considerable at some of our sites, having killed about one-third of the trees within five years. Though at other sites, the population was much smaller, having killed only a small percentage of trees. We’re not exactly sure what caused this variability. It’s possible that the woodwasp arrived at some of our sites years before it arrived at others, and the most vulnerable trees were long dead at the sites it invaded earlier. We have no record of time since woodwasp invasion at any of our sites. It’s also possible that local environmental conditions, which we did not measure, could in some way have affected tree resistance or the woodwasp population.
Most curious, though, was that over the five years many trees attacked by the woodwasp did not die – around 50 to 80%. At least half of these trees were attacked again and again in successive years. We had captured an interesting part of the woodwasp’s ecology, its way of essentially priming trees to become better habitat for its young. When laying eggs, female woodwasps also inject a self-made toxic venom along with a symbiotic fungus into the tree, to help kill it. If the tree is sufficiently resistant to attack, the female may not lay eggs, only the fungus and venom. The fungus and venom then work in concert to weaken (prime) the tree for re-attack – and hopefully successful colonization – in subsequent years.
Two-thirds of trees that were attacked by the woodwasp at some point in our study (one or more times) did not die, which shows that most trees selected by the woodwasp as suitable habitat are at the moment resistant to its advances. This also shows, along with the variability in woodwasp impact among sites, that this invader is active in the forest. Should environmental conditions change (say, if a drought occurs), woodwasp populations could quickly rise to outbreak levels, which could kill large numbers of healthy pines. This has happened in other places.
Long-term study of these sites, and hopefully others, is needed so that we can be aware of changes that arise in woodwasp impact. This will allow us to be proactive about what steps to take to manage this invader, should it become a problem. It will also help us better understand and predict what causes exotic species to vacillate on the spectrum between aggressive invader and innocuous resident.
Want to read more? Check out the original article published in The Canadian Entomologist, which is freely available for reading & download until May 14, 2018.
Haavik, L.J., Dodds, K.J. & Allison, J.D. (2018) Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) in Ontario (Canada) pine forests: observations over five years. The Canadian Entomologist, 1–14. doi: 10.4039/tce.2018.18
By Nicole McKenzie, PMRA
Growing up is a continuous lesson in assessing risks.
In my case, those risks included going for a double salchow with the risk of taking a bad fall, pushing my limits on my bike with the risk of an accident around every corner, or choosing an insect-filled educational path that was once considered risky for girls and women.
But with these risks come opportunities, and learning which risks are worth taking, and which are best avoided, is a critical lesson we all learn through experience and opportunity. Luckily for me, I survived the risks I took, and the lessons they taught me prepared me for a job that I love.
For the last decade, I have been an Evaluation Officer with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the pesticide-regulating wing of Health Canada.
In an effort to join the #scicomm science communication revolution, I want to do a better job of explaining what I do.
No, I don’t pop a wheelie on ice while wrangling bees in a forest, but I do work that is almost as interesting. I said *almost*.
What DO you do, then?
I deal with pollinators of the insect kind. I look at how pesticides affect bees that collect and move pollen from male and female flower parts. This process is called pollination and it helps to produce fruit like apples. Pollinators are vital to not only Canada, but to the entire world’s food supply. I assess pollinator pesticide risk, which means I analyze research from some Entomology Society of Canada members as well as the greater pollinator community. With a team of scientists, I dissect the data from research studies and organize it around a risk assessment framework. The framework holds up the data so the team can see ALL of the highs and lows of the risk.
From here we can step back and take in the whole risk picture gallery.
From the picture emerges a Pollinator Risk Management Plan that can be put in place to help safeguard our bees and food.
The Bikes and the Bees
Every day, we take what are deemed acceptable risks like driving a car at high speeds, and we try to prevent unacceptable risks like contracting measles that could affect our families and ourselves.
Deciding which risk is worth taking can be overwhelming. My risk assessing jam is The Risk Song by Risk Bites. It both winds my gears and chills me out.
Our method to assess risk is a lot like grinding through bike gears from smallest to largest. A better way of explaining this is by writing about going for a bike ride. But not just any bike ride, a big one like a Century Bike Race where you ride 100 km in one day, something I hope to accomplish this summer.
A Century Bike Race is risky, but like anything, it can be assessed and a plan developed to manage the risk.
To assess the risk, I first completed 3 tests as I trained on my bike. Like steps, each test relied on the one before to gather information on the risks.
The stepped tests (or tiers as we call them in the risk assessment world) start very basic and move toward a more realistic set-up closer to mimicking the actual bike race. At each step, if an effect was seen (or a risk identified) another test was completed.
Tier 1: Basic bike riding skills
- TEST: Emergency stop or trying-to-stop-quickly-from-a-fast-speed.
- EFFECT = Falling over. This might be the fastest (unintentional) way to end my race.
Tier 2: Group riding skills
- TEST: Riding with the flow in a group of cyclists with bikes in front, behind and on both sides.
- EFFECT = I wobble side to side as I ride. No one wants to ride beside that.
Tier 3: Bike racing skills
- TEST: Entering some shorter bike races.
- EFFECT = I have never done a bike race before. *NOTE: I have competed in short distance triathlons, but ask any roadie about how these don’t count*. Bike racing seems a little like running with bulls, except with extra metal, spokes and wheel parts. Ouch.
It’s not enough to list effects seen from my bike race “tests”; I need to know about the race. I need to know details about what I could be exposed to during the race. This could include the road conditions, the type of race, the timing of the race and so much more.
Risk Assessment = Effects + Exposure
Using a framework, I compared the effects seen in the 3 tiered tests to what I expect to be exposed to during my bike race, and came up with this Risk Management Plan:
|TEST TYPE||RACE EXPOSURE INFORMATION||RISK IDENTIFIED||MANAGEMENT STEPS|
Basic bike riding skills
||Falling off bike||
Group riding skills
|Wobbling as I ride||
Bike racing skills
|I have never done a bike race before||
If my bike analogy is still lost on you, connect with me on Twitter and I’ll try comparing it to landing a double axel instead. In the meantime, here’s a handy interactive infographic to explain the risk assessment process using caffeine as an example.
The Bees and the Bikes
Assessing pesticide risk to pollinators is similar to assessing bike race risk. There are of course different pollinator tests for each of the 3 tiers and different exposure details needed for plants and pesticides but the process is the same. Each tier gets more specific and more realistic to what and how a pollinator could react when encountering a pesticide in the environment. Here is how a general pollinator risk assessment works starting with the tiered tests:
Effect information examples:
Tier 1: Individual bee effects
- Observe individual bees after they are fed pesticides mixed with sugar
- Observe individual bees after a pesticide drop is placed on their back
Tier 2: Semi-field effects
- Observe bee colonies that are placed under tents with pesticide treated plants
- Observe bee colonies that are fed pesticides mixed with sugar and/or pollen
Tier 3: Full-field effects
- TEST: Observe bee colonies that are placed in fields of pesticide treated plants
Exposure information examples:
- The type of pesticide and how it works
- The plants that are to be treated with the pesticide
- The timing of the pesticide applications and when the plants bloom
- If pollinators are found on or attracted to the treated plants
- The amount of pesticide found in the plant parts that pollinators may feed on or touch
Risk Assessment = Effects + Exposure
Just like with my bike race we use a framework to compare the effects with the exposure information but there is more to consider that can complicate the process.
We also strive to understand the natural history of pollinators and the way crops are grown and harvested in Canada. This crucial information is then overlaid on the exposure information and the effects seen. This melding together of ALL the collected information results in, you guessed it, a Pollinator Risk Management Plan.
Example of Pollinator Pesticide Risk Management Plan Steps
Some management steps that crop up in plans I’ve helped put together include:
- Not allowing pesticides to be applied to any plant while it flowers
- Reducing the amount of pesticide applied to a level below where the risk lies
- Changing the timing of a pesticide application from before to after flowering
- Eliminating the use or method of a pesticide application
Risky Buzz-i-ness keeps me busy
Working with pollinators has taught me that nothing is as straightforward as it seems. The science changes all the time, as do the risks as we learn more about bees, their behaviour, and how plants are grown in Canada.
There is one thing I do rely on, and that is how pollinator work is NEVER boring.
If you want more information about the pollinator risk assessment process… or to give me bike race tips here’s some links:
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).
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.
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