Below, we provide a few examples of faculty research interests at the SARAHS centre. There are many specific projects underway, and we encourage people interested in the work of SARAHS faculty to visit the faculty web pages for more information.
Population dynamics are profoundly shaped by the spatial configuration and quality of different land covers. SARAHS faculty conduct a variety of field-based studies on the movements and population dynamics of species in spatially complex landscapes. We also use mathematical models and GIS as ways to obtain greater insights into how spatial patterns affect population dynamics and genetic structure. Current projects include work on red squirrels, snowshoe hares, Canada lynx, Behr’s Hairstreak butterflies, Fender’s blue butterflies, western Pacific rattlesnakes, and Great Basin gophersnakes.
We use a combination of molecular and field methods to describe how genetic variation in natural populations is structured across heterogeneous landscapes, and to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine that structure. Our research group studies organisms as diverse as mycorrhizal fungi, invertebrates, and vertebrates in landscapes that are impacted to varying degrees by human activity.
Many trees have symbiotic relationships with mychorrhizal fungi. Disturbance (fires, timber harvest) affects fungal symbionts and soils, and may change the rate at which new seedlings establish. Current research includes work on Douglas fir establishment and spatial patterns in the recolonization of mychorrizal fungi following clearcuts. To see more: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/biol/research/fame.html.
This small region of south-central BC (about 3% of the land area of BC) contains >10% of Canada’s federally listed at-risk species. We are actively involved with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, as well as conducting a variety of research projects in this region. Among other projects, we have active research on reserve design for the region; connectivity of habitats for species at risk; population dynamics, movements, and genetic structure of several at-risk species; and methods for designating critical habitat as required under the Species at Risk Act.
Endocrine disruptors, sub-lethal concentrations of heavy metals, and changes in water temperatures may have profound effects on the physiology and reproductive success of aquatic organisms. Current projects include research on kokanee salmon, frogs, and other aquatic or semi-aquatic organisms to address these interactions.
Not all habitats are equally valuable for conservation purposes. In this theme, we use GIS, species-habitat models, and various algorithms for ranking sites to evaluate where species occur and how to design efficient networks of reserves.
Plant-herbivore and prey-predator interactions have far-reaching individual, population, and community ramifications. We have a number of studies related to these interactions, including whether plants can detect low levels of insect herbivory, insect host-parasitoid ecological and evolutionary dynamics, and conservation of endangered forest carnivores.
Past climates can be identified from using plant and animal remains in lake sediments and matching the species to the types of habitats and climates they can tolerate. Our work in this area has emphasized the use of chironomids to track paleoclimates in Canada.
This research interest involves investigating relationships between species status and variables which may be related to status, where the spatial-temporal context of the data are taken into account. This area includes sampling designs and methods of analysis suitable for the study of rare species, methods for characterization of sampled populations in observational studies, and pattern recognition and clustering methods.
Primary goals of conservation biology are to protect biological diversity and, ultimately, the ability of species and populations to persist in the face of spatial and temporal environmental variation. The maintenance of evolutionary potential, however, is critically dependent upon the preservation of genetic variation underlying ecologically important traits. Given these considerations, research in this area employs a range of population genetic and genomic methodologies for identifying genomic regions of adaptive significance and explores ways in which such information may be used within the framework of wildlife management and conservation.
Last reviewed 1/14/2013 8:49:17 AM