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Webinar – Cascading Impacts: Community dynamics and landscape genetics

2020-08-11 @ 12:00 13:00 MDT


  1. Baily McCulloch (University of Alberta) – The New Top Dogs? Mesopredator response to wild removal in a changing landscape.
  2. Glynnis Hood (University of Alberta) – Ecological Compromise: Can alternative beaver management maintain biodiversity?
  3. Ian Gazeley (University of Lethbridge) – Species Reintroductions and Population Bottlenecks: Conservation genetics of Roosevelt Elk in southwest BC.

Read the speaker abstracts.

Our monthly Lunch and Learn Webinar series continues to share the research and work of our members. Each of these webinars focuses on a concurrent session from our cancelled 2020 conference. The August webinar, Cascading Impacts: Community Dynamics and Landscape Genetics, offered attendees an opportunity to learn about mesopredator response to wolf removal, aquatic invertebrate community response to beaver management, and genetics of reintroduced elk populations in BC. Research spanned from British Columbia to Saskatchewan and really got me thinking about the diversity of ecosystems we work in!

This webinar was sponsored by Bighorn Wildlife Technologies Ltd.

Webinar Summary

Our first speaker, Baily McCulloch, shared her graduate research examining how mesopredators (e.g., coyotes, foxes) respond to wolf removal in Alberta’s boreal. Previous research on trophic cascades had shown that mesopredators are the only group that has a positive response to top predator control management strategies. Baily looked at populations in Alberta and Saskatchewan to compare how different levels of human development might impact this response. Her analysis matrix compared four situations with wolf control/no wolf control and human development/no human development. Her main research objective was to determine how the two management strategies impact mesopredator population density. She found that fishers and red fox populations increased in areas with less disturbance, but there was no effect of wolf control on mesopredator populations.

Glynnis Hood then discussed monitoring research that examined beaver ponds in Beaver County, Alberta, and then compared these results to previous research in nearby Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. Beavers are recognized for their positive influence on aquatic biodiversity. In areas near human infrastructure, pond levellers are used to control the depth of beaver ponds to prevent flooding. In areas where pond levellers had been constructed, Glynnis and her team sampled aquatic invertebrates near beaver lodges, in beaver channels leading to and away from ponds, in open water, and along vegetated edges. They identified 87 aquatic micro invertebrate taxa. Glynnis found that species richness was highest in beaver channel. Omnivorous invertebrates appeared to decrease and shredders increase after pond-leveller installation in beaver channels, but all other functional feeding groups remained intact. Most importantly, there were no other significant differences in biodiversity and community composition pre and post leveller installation. This research demonstrated that the levellers were not impacting aquatic diversity, thus increasing their credibility as a management option to reduce flooding.

Our last speaker was Ian Gazeley who discussed genetic bottlenecks and a reintroduced population of Roosevelt elk from Vancouver Island to the mainland. Roosevelt elk are Blue Listed in BC and are endemic to the west coast. After some concerning sightings of elk with recessive genetic conditions, Ian was interested in looking at the genetic diversity of reintroduced populations. His work found that the Vancouver Island South population had a distinct genetic composition from all other populations and the Vancouver Island North population had the highest genetic diversity. When he examined mitochondrial DNA, he found a distinct separation on Vancouver Island, with distinct North and South populations, but that the mainland herd had similar genetic attributes as North Vancouver Island. Ian’s results suggest there is limited connectivity between the Vancouver Island South and all other populations, which may lead to genetic isolation.

Webinar Results

This webinar was attended by 26 people and all of them thought the webinar was useful. Half of the attendees had been to an ACTWS webinar previously, which is great! Thanks for coming back! Close to 70% of attendees would recommend an ACTWS webinar in the future.

Join us in September for our next webinar! Details to come.

See the Webinar!

A video of the webinar is posted in our members area. (Apologies for cutting the first 2 minutes of the webinar. We had technical difficulties).

Sponsor a webinar!

We are always looking for corporate sponsors for our webinar series. Call Sarah if you’d like more information.

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
T6E 5G8

Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.

In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.