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What we all lose as more of Canada’s wildlife disappears

Canada officially has less biodiversity than one year ago. 

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Tracking policy developments is just as important as tracking wildlife

Helping make government policies better for nature is a big and important part of the work we do here at WCS Canada. 

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Saving Species at the Edge of Extinction

When we wipe out a species, it is not only the loss of something unique. The biodiversity that humans depend on to survive is also eroded.

WCS Canada's Director of National Conservation, Daniel Kraus, said there is no real choice. “Ensuring clean water and clean air, and diverse and abundant wildlife, is not really a trade-off because if we lose all of those things, we lose the foundation for economy and society.”

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Next steps for Canada: Developing a plan to end biodiversity loss

Helping steer 196 countries to arrive at a consensus agreement for “halting and reversing biodiversity loss” was no small accomplishment for Canadian representatives at the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) negotiations in Montreal this past December.  But now the even more challenging work of implementing the agreement has begun with the official launch on May 15th of Canada’s consultation on a 2030 Biodiversity Strategy for Canada.

Halting and reversing biodiversity loss is not going to be an easy or straightforward task.  But just as with climate, it is vital that we reset our relationship with the natural world before it is too late.

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Latest publications

Once upon a time in Mexico: Holocene biogeography of the spotted bat (Euderma maculatum)
Holocene-era range expansions are relevant to understanding how a species might respond to the warming and drying climates of today. The harsh conditions of North American deserts have phylogenetically structured desert bat communities but differences in flight capabilities are expected to affect their ability to compete, locate, and use habitat in the face of modern climate change. A highly vagile but data-deficient bat species, the spotted bat (Euderma maculatum), is thought to have expanded its range from central Mexico to western Canada during the Holocene. With specimens spanning this latitudinal extent, we examined historical demography, and used ecological niche modeling (ENM) and phylogeography (mitochondrial DNA), to investigate historic biogeography from the rear to leading edges of the species’ range. The ENM supported the notion that Mexico was largely the Pleistocene-era range, whereas haplotype pattern and Skyline plots indicated that populations expanded from the southwestern US throughout the Holocene. This era provided substantial gains in suitable climate space and likely facilitated access to roosting habitat throughout the US Intermountain West. Incongruent phylogenies among different methods prevented a precise understanding of colonization history. However, isolation at the southern-most margin of the range suggests a population was left behind in Mexico as climate space contracted and are currently of unknown status. The species appears historically suited to follow shifts in climate space but differences in flight behaviors between leading edge and core-range haplogroups suggest range expansions could be influenced by differences in habitat quality or climate (e.g., drought). Although its vagility could facilitate response to environmental change and thereby avoid extinction, anthropogenic pressures at the core range could still threaten the ability for beneficial alleles to expand into the leading edge.
Nesting Ecology of the Barn Swallow on Agriultural Lands in Yukon
ince the 1980s, the abundance of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rus-tica) in North America, including the far north, has declined. To better understand the species’ biology north of 60° N, near the northern limit of its range, and in a region of expanding agriculture, we studied its nesting ecology on farms in southern Yukon Territory, Canada, in 2019 and 2020. We followed 21 attempted nests in 2019, 20 in 2020, of which 52% and 60%, respectively, were inside buildings with permanently open entrances. Other nests were built on the outside of buildings. In both years we inferred successful double brooding by three pairs, which is rarely reported north of 60°N latitude. We found the swallows’ reproductive output to be similar to that at temperate latitudes: first clutches ranged from three to six eggs (mean 4.8 in 2019; 4.2 in 2020); second clutches may have averaged marginally smaller (n = 6). The mean number of fledglings per nest was 3.3 in 2019 and 3.0 in 2020. Twenty-one percent of nests failed, either by falling off a vertical substrate or because of predation by deer mice (Peromyscus spp.), Black-billed Magpies (Pica hudsonia), or domestic cats. We also compared the air temperatures at nests, usually near building roofs, to ambient temperatures, finding them on average 1.6°C warmer than temperatures outside buildings. We set out 33 platforms and 20 wooden cups designed for Barn Swallow nesting but over the two years of our study the birds did not use any of them.
Microbial isolates with Anti‑Pseudogymnoascus destructans activities from Western Canadian bat wings
Forsythe, A. et al. (incl. Lausen, C.L.). 2022. Scientific Reports 12:9895
Efficacy and ethics of intensive predator management to save endangered caribou
Johnson, C.J., Ray, J.C and St-Laurent, M-H. 2022. Conservation Science and Practice e12729
Developing a national level evidence-based toolbox for addressing freshwater biodiversity threats
Reid et al. (incl. O'Connor, C.M.). 2022. Biological Conservation 269:109533
Coupling validation effort with in situ bioacoustic data improves estimating relative activity and occupancy for multiple species with cross-species misclassifications
Stratton, C. et al (incl. Lausen, C. and Rae, J. ). 2022. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 2022;00:1-16.
Quantifying firebrand production and transport using the acoustic analysis of in-fire cameras.
Quantifying firebrand production and transport using the acoustic analysis of in-fire cameras. Thompson, D. K. et al. (incl. Yip, D.A.) Fire Technology
Activity, heart rate, and energy expenditure of a cold-climate mesocarnivore, the Canada lynx
Menzies, A. et al. (incl. Seguin, J.). 2022 Canadian Journal of Zoology

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Latest policy comments

WCS Canada comments in response to Canada's Critical Minerals List and methodology
Why it's important: The Critical Minerals List has a critical role in prioritizing and advancing project development, which creates a high potential for a significantly larger material footprint resulting from the growth-inducing social and environmental impacts associated with the escalation of such activities. What we want to see: 1) commit to a strategic assessment of Critical Minerals with the release of the updated List; 2) bolster the criteria to incorporate environmental and social sustainability, with attention to federal jurisdiction and climate commitments; 3) publish an updated List with information on its purpose and relevant mineral characteristics; and 4) include experts and civil society organizations in targeted consultations regarding criteria and their application.
WCS Canada response to Draft BC Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework
Why it's important: This framework indicates a refreshing willingness by the BC government to take responsibility, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, for transformative actions that will benefit biodiversity, ecosystem health, climate and people. What we want to see: Clear details on the design and major changes needed to implement the framework A coherent approach involving all relevant BC government ministries. New and revised laws co-developed with Indigenous Nations, and not in conflict with existing laws Improved definitions of key terms, specifically "ecosystem health", "ecological integrity" and "adaptive management".
WCS Canada comments in response to Patriot Lithium (Canada) Inc. mineral exploration permit
As part of our work, we have been tracking mineral claims in Ontario since 2013, and mineral exploration permits since 2016. We have previously commented on specific mineral exploration permits. We have also recently started sharing maps of new proposed mineral exploration permits, to make it easier for people to see where mineral exploration is proposed in relation to existing mining activity and other ecological and cultural values (https://www.facebook.com/MineralTrackerON/). We wanted to provide the comment to the Ministry that there appears to be significant concern from the local communities opposing this particular permit application, based on the response to the map we created for this proposed mineral exploration permit.

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For general email inquiries: wcscanada@wcs.org
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Photo credits: Banner | Susan Morse © News | Mountain landscape: Susan Morse ©,  River: Maitland Conservation Authority ©, Caribou: Don Reid © WCS Canada, Peatlands: Mike Oldham  | Bat with WNS © NPS/Creative Commons License  | Mosaic: Northern Mountains: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Wolverine: Susan Morse ©. Brook Trout: Engbretson Underwater Photography ©, Bat: Cory Olson ©, Wild Places: Hilary Cooke © WCS Canada, Ontario River: Constance O'Connor © WCS Canada, Caribou: Susan Morse © | Black-capped chickadee © Malcolm Boothroyd | Yukon mining: Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle © WCS Canada.