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PBPO birdsWhat's the latest buzz? How birds are affected in Canada's changing Arctic.

As part of its annual fundraising dinner on November 18th, The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory presents a rare opportunity to listen to Dr. Grant Gilchrist, a research scientist with the National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa. Dr. Gilchrist will be speaking about:

Exploring the art of delivering science in Canada's north: conservation biology of seabirds in a changing Arctic.

We often view the Arctic as a pristine wilderness largely free of environmental threats. Times are changing. Gilchrist will review the effects of two factors currently affecting seabird populations in Arctic Canada: emerging diseases and climate change effects on polar bear distributions. In the first example, infectious disease can have strong effects on wildlife populations. Avian cholera is a highly virulent disease of birds that has circulated among common eider duck populations in Europe and North America for several decades. The disease has recently appeared in the Canadian Arctic where high mortality, coupled with near total reproductive failure on affected colonies has raised fears over local extirpation and severe population decline. In the second example, polar bears are a top predator in the circumpolar Arctic and are adapted to use sea ice as a platform to hunt seals. Advancement in the timing of spring sea ice break-up due to climate change has recently reduced the access of seals to bears, and has been associated with increased bear predation of seabird eggs in summer, raising concerns about bear mediated population declines in seabirds. Throughout his talk, Gilchrist will also describe how his team lives and conducts research in remote field locations in the Arctic and will introduce the diversity of partners that have contributed to their research efforts.

Dr. Grant Gilchrist is a Research Scientist at the National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and an adjunct professor at Carleton University. Gilchrist leads a multidisciplinary research program focused on foraging behaviour, reproduction, migration, and the wintering distribution of arctic seabirds, and how these processes are affected by changing climate, emerging diseases, and increased industry presence in the north. Gilchrist also leads several projects that focus on the harvest of some marine bird species by Aboriginal Peoples in order to both ensure sustainable levels of harvest, as well as incorporating Aboriginal needs into conservation and management strategies of northern Canada and Greenland. To date, Gilchrist has published over 200 peer reviewed scientific articles which have been cited over 4000 times in other scientific publications. In addition to being a highly respected and accomplished researcher, Gilchrist is also a talented photographer who's pictures were recently featured at a Canadian Museum of Nature photography exhibit on climate change in the north. This past summer, Gilchrist was an invited guest for part of the Canada C3 expedition, a 150 day boating journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, an excursion designed to celebrate our environment, sharing stories of coastal communities, and connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The BPBO annual fundraising dinner will be held on Saturday, November 18th at the Quality Inn (formerly the Days Inn) located at 950 – 6th ST. East, just east of the Owen Sound Courthouse. Tickets are $80 each for which a $45 tax-deductible receipt is available. There will also be a small silent auction. Please go to the BPBO website: www.bpbo.ca to buy your tickets and place at a table to hear some of the latest about leading bird research in Canada. For questions you may call Anne or Bernie at 519-534-5923.

source: media release, Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory

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