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  6. Arctic symposium at Canadian Museum of Nature to examine biodiversity and impacts of climate change

Arctic symposium at Canadian Museum of Nature to examine biodiversity and impacts of climate change

Ottawa, February 18, 2020- Experts on the Arctic will convene in Ottawa Friday, February 21 for a one-day symposium that will explore the region’s biodiversity and the impacts of climate change on that biodiversity.  

“The Arctic is a bellwether for climate change and this gathering will present different ways that biodiversity is being affected and discuss efforts to understand it and conserve it,” explains Dr. Jeff Saarela, director of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration, which is coordinating the symposium. “It’s a broad approach that brings perspectives from scientists, policymakers, non-governmental organizations and those engaged in Arctic issues.”

Group discussions and special talks will share time with a snappy lunchtime session, where speakers each get a one-minute “lightning talk” to pitch their projects and make themselves known to others in the room.

The day will begin with a report card on the state of Arctic biodiversity through a keynote address by Iceland-based Tom Barry, Executive Secretary of Conservation of Arctic Flora and Flora, the biodiversity arm of the Arctic Council.

Two in-depth sessions will follow, with speakers presenting topics about conservation efforts connected with Arctic biodiversity – ranging from the importance of parks and protected areas, efforts to monitor biodiversity by local communities, studies of animal populations such as caribou and lemmings, to the impacts of microplastics in the region’s environment.    

The afternoon will feature venture breakout sessions and moderated discussions about climate change and its impacts on Arctic biodiversity.

International perspectives include Dr. Igor Krupnik from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. presenting a multi-year study titled “Arctic Crashes: People, Animals and Climate in the Changing North.” Other presentations of note include the University of Guelph’s Arctic BIOSCAN project led by Dr. Alex Borisenko, which engages local communities to track biodiversity using DNA barcoding. Dr. Jennifer Provencher with the Canadian Wildlife Service will also present her research into the emerging effects of litter and plastics in Arctic ecosystems.

The Canadian Museum of Nature has a legacy of Arctic research and exploration  dating from the first Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-18. At the museum’s research and collections facility in Gatineau, Quebec, experts curate significant national collections from the Arctic, especially those for plants, terrestrial wildlife, fishes and other aquatic life. The museum is also the current repository for the Government of Nunavut’s archeology, fossil and geology collections. The museum’s public site in downtown Ottawa features the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, which presents  the story of the region’s biodiversityas well as the close links of the land to the peoples that live there.

For more information about the Arctic Symposium, including speakers, agenda and registration, visit nature.ca/arctic2020. 

Information for media:
Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-566-4781; 613-698-9253 (cell)