Friday, March 4, 2011

Celebrate the Arrival of Spring in Ottawa

The Field Botanists of Ontario
and the Canadian Museum of Nature
invite you to
Celebrate the Arrival of Spring in Ottawa
April 9 - 11th 2011


Saturday, April 9

1740 Pink Road, Gatineau, Quebec (Aylmer Sector)
See map attached (or visit and scroll down for a google map). Parking is free. On arrival, please enter by the main door.

Behind the scenes at your Canadian Museum of Nature
Come for a rare chance to see a few (thousand) of the ten million natural history specimens safeguarded for Canadians by the CMN, and meet some of the people that care for them. The visit will highlight the National Herbarium of Canada, which preserves discoveries and adventures significant in our botanical history, and the DNA lab where researchers are making history today. But that’s not all: you will find some VERY large skeletons in CMN closets…


Please find lunch during your transition from the Natural Heritage Building to the Victoria Memorial Museum Building. A list of nearby restaurants is attached. There is a cafe in the Museum exhibit building, but it may be quite busy!

240 McLeod Street, Ottawa, Ontario, 3rd Floor Salon
For directions, visit Parking at the Museum costs $1.75 per hour, to a maximum of $10.00 per day. Nearby street parking is free on weekends.

Welcome and introductions, followed by speakers:

Tiger nuts and velcro plants
A walk through the relationships, biogeography and remarkable diversity of sedges (family Cyperaceae)
Julian Starr, Research Scientist, Canadian Museum of Nature / Associate Professor, U of Ottawa

The Cyperaceae or sedge family is a truly remarkable group characterised by its exceptional diversity (ca. 5000 spp.), varied habitats (deserts to rain forests), unusual chromosomes (holocentric) and diverse biogeographical patterns. Distributed across every continent except Antarctica, sedges represent nearly 3% of the native vascular flora of North America, and in some regions, such as the Arctic, they are the dominant component in terms of species diversity and biomass. In addition, approximately 10% of sedge species are of either direct (e.g., medicines, crops) or indirect (e.g., weeds) economic importance to humanity, and yet sedges are largely unknown to the general public, and they are frequently mistaken for other plants such as rushes or grasses, even by professionals. In this talk we will learn about the fascinating biology of the sedge family, and about recent advances in our understanding of its relationships, evolution, and diversity through the application of genetic techniques such as DNA sequencing and barcoding. Recent collecting North and South America will highlight the beginning of our research on the biogeography and taxonomy of arctic-alpine and bipolar species complexes, including the discovery of hidden diversity in this remarkable plant family.

Julian Starr’s research is in Systematics, the science of biodiversity. By using traditional morphological and modern molecular techniques, his research aims to discover and circumscribe species and to understand the biogeography and evolution of higher-level groups. Most of his work is focused on sedges (family Cyperaceae). Julian Starr holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Manitoba and a doctorate from Oxford University, England.

Orchids: leaving “nothing but footprints” can leave significant impact
Long Term Study of Two Common Orchids
Marilyn Light, Chair, North American Regional Committee of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group

To conserve biodiversity, we need a profound understanding of the role of the ecosystem in species survival and of the relative impact of natural events and human disturbance upon our interpretation. Long term study of common orchids in Gatineau Park, Qu├ębec, has been used to examine how weather affects insect pollinators and herbivores, as well as to assess the impact of visitors and habitat trampling upon orchid seed germination. We will examine how lessons learned using common plants can be effectively used by field botanists to study and monitor more vulnerable species.

Marilyn Light received her education at McGill University. Since 1985, she has studied the behaviour of orchid populations including Cypripedium parviflorum and the introduced Epipactis helleborine. She has received the Anne Hanes Conservation Award from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club and chairs the North American Region Committee of the Orchid Specialist Group.

Coffee, tea, fruit

Science and Traditional Knowledge
Detection of vegetation changes in southern Hudson Bay
Laurie Consaul, Botanist, Canadian Museum of Nature

The effect of climate change on terrestrial biota of the Southern Arctic Ecozone can potentially be inferred by the appearance of new species from the south. New plant species and other changes in vegetation distribution and cover can be detected by residents with long histories of relationship with the land and its wildlife, as well as by repeated botanical inventories of an area through time. This presentation will focus on field work collecting plants on the Belcher Islands in southern Hudson Bay in 2010, for a project that compares contemporary plant distributions with results of past inventories to detect vegetation changes. Social science colleagues engaged local participants in making plant collections, and interviewed community members about changes in the vegetation and the effects of these changes on their lives. This presentation will show beautiful southern Arctic landscapes and also discuss adaptations that make these Arctic plant species hardy in other extreme environments further south.

Laurie Consaul studies systematics of plants combining traditional morphological and cytological methods with molecular methods, focusing currently on the grass genus Puccinellia (alkaligrass and goosegrass). She also studies the distribution of arctic plants and change in distribution of these plants that may be attributed to climate change. Laurie holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Ontario, a Master’s degree from the University of Ottawa, and a doctorate from McGill University.

Hold onto your hats! Botany is going digital to change the world
Being a Botanist in the 21st Century
James Macklin, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

With the advancement of technology for capturing and sharing information, biodiversity information is accumulating faster than ever, and is available from an increasingly large number of distributed sources. Historically, the species-occurrence data associated with biological collections was used primarily by taxonomists, but with the aggregation of data from many sources has come ready availability of these data for many other uses, such as modelling species distributions and assessing the effects of climate change on biological diversity. When problems with accuracy, completeness, and consistency of representation of those data are overcome, the results of these kinds of research, based on information with a solid taxonomic footing, may be judiciously applied to influence policy and management of biodiversity resources.

James Macklin is newly returned to Canada having spent five years as Director of Collections and Informatics at Harvard University Herbaria and six years as manager of botanical collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a systematist exploring complex variability in the Rosaceae (particularly hawthorns and blackberries), and a leader in biodiversity informatics initiatives, including the “Filtered Push”: network technology designed to enhance discovery and use of natural history collections, reduce duplicative capture effort, and enhance data quality.


Brand-new exhibitions and galleries in a 100-year-old stone castle
In May 2010, the CMN re-opened its doors after jaw-dropping restorations and renovations. Here’s your chance to sample the new RBC Blue Water Gallery (featuring Tallulah the whale), Vale Earth Gallery, and Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery or to walk a few steps along a visual journey to the Arctic, through the camera lens of Michelle Vahlberg in the temporary exhibition Arctic Kaleidosope.

240 McLeod Street, Ottawa, Ontario, 3rd Floor Salon

Catered by Gourmet Cuisine. Vegetarian choices are included on the menu. Please indicate any special dietary considerations on your registration form.


Botany in arctic Canada: The latest chapter in a 200 year adventure
Floristic Discoveries and Biodiversity of the Western Canadian Arctic Vascular Plant Flora
Jeffery M. Saarela, Research Scientist, Canadian Museum of Nature

Exploration of the vascular plant flora of the Canadian Arctic has been ongoing for almost two centuries, yet substantial gaps remain in our floristic understanding of this large and difficult-to-access region. Detailed information on the diversity and distribution of Arctic plants is urgently needed to understand the potential impacts of climate change on the region’s flora. The botany team at the Canadian Museum of Nature has recently (2008, 2009, and 2010) conducted detailed floristic surveys in botanically-understudied regions of the western Canadian Arctic: on mainland Northwest Territories (Tuktut Nogait National Park and vicinity, between the tree line and the Arctic coastline), and on Victoria Island − the largest island in the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The comprehensive baseline data of our >3000 new collections adds important knowledge to our understanding of Arctic plant biodiversity, and will contribute to understanding the impacts of global climate change on the composition and distribution of the Arctic flora. Many of our collections are first records for the northwestern Arctic, and we have documented many range extensions for species within Canada and the NWT (e.g., Botrychium lunaria, Equisetum palustre, Carex concinna, C. garberi, Draba oligosperma, Lomatogonium rotatum, and Myriophyllum sibiricum). Surprisingly, we found previously undocumented extralimital stands of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) growing fully in the tundra well beyond the reported range of the species in Canada, which is generally considered to extend only to the tree line. Dense ‘Arctic forests’ dominated by the large willow, Salix alaxensis, occur along river terraces on northwestern Victoria Island, forming a unique micro-habit that harbours a lush and diverse vegetation atypical of the surrounding Arctic tundra. Through our explorations of Victoria Island, we have documented species not previously reported for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago as a whole (e.g., Andromeda polifolia), the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago (e.g., Koenigia islandica, Corallorhiza trifida, and Pinguicula vulgaris, representing a major northern range extension for this insectivorous species), and Victoria Island (some 30 species, including major range extensions for the recently-described grass species, Puccinellia banksiensis).

Jeff Saarela is a research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature. He completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2006. He works in the field, herbarium and DNA laboratory to characterize the taxonomy and evolutionary history of grasses, sedges and the Arctic flora.

Sunday, April 10


Q: Where do you find a Field Botanist? A: In the field.
After a day indoors catching up with news, here’s a chance to head outside, exploring the National Capital region under the guidance of knowlegeable botanists and gifted presenters. Please bring standard field gear for easy (but possibly cool, damp) terrain, along with trail snacks.

Heart of the National Capital: The Greenbelt Dan Brunton
Maximum 20 participants

The massive (20,000 ha) National Capital Greenbelt (NCG) extends east - west across the City of Ottawa, encompasses an amazing variety of natural habitats and native biodiversity. Over 800 native vascular plant species are present including over 200 Provincially or Regionally Significant species. Simply put, the NCG is the most ecologically significant urban Greenbelt in North America, if not the world. Although it will be too early in the field season to fully appreciate it fully, the FBO field trip will provide a taste of the floristic diversity of the NCG.

Meeting place: Assuming spring floods or late winter conditions don’t make the decision for us, there are two possibilities: The Eastern Option includes Mer Bleue Bog (vast RAMSAR-designated peatland, long research history) and Greens Creek CA (disjunct southern flora, Champlain Sea fossils, primary-growth hemlock ravines) and time permitting, Pinegrove CA (sand-based coniferous forest). The Western Option includes Innis Point (globally rare shore alvar and primary growth Silver Maple swamp) and Stony Swamp CA (most floristically diverse area in Ottawa, and time permitting Pinhey Forest (sand-based coniferous forest of regenerated Champlain Sea sand dunes). Please indicate your preference on the registration form. Logistical details will be shared with registrants by e-mail and at the meeting on Saturday.

Dan Brunton is an ecological consultant with a long history of ecological investigation and conservation activity in the Ottawa Valley. He has written extensively on natural features and areas, particularly in of eastern Ontario and western Quebec. A life-long naturalist, he has a particular interest in vascular plants in general and pteridophytes in particular. He also has explored and collected extensively across Ontario and throughout North America and maintains a large private herbarium.

Wonderful Winter Wildflowers Eleanor Thomson

Every field botanist has at times puzzled over the identity of plants that are not in flower or otherwise easily identifiable. We will go to Marlborough Forest, a vast area of woods and wetlands south of Ottawa, to see what various wildflowers look like during and after the winter's snow.

Meeting Place: 9:00 am, Cedar Grove Nature Trail at parking lot E3. From the west end of Ottawa, take Hwy 416 south to Roger Stevens Drive (exit 49). Go southwest on Roger Stevens Drive about 5 km to the parking lot (E3) at the Cedar Grove Nature Trail.

Eleanor Thomson is a four season botanist with a comprehensive knowledge of the flora of eastern Ontario.

Lichens of Gatineau Park Colin Freebury
Maximum 12 participants

Gatineau Park is something of a wilderness treasure to its adjacent urban population of more than a million people. Despite heavy recreational use and nearby traffic, the park is home to an impressive diversity of plants and fungi, including an extraordinary 323 (and counting!) species of lichens. This outing will take participants a leisurely kilometer through mature maple forests, and provide a rare guided opportunity to explore lichenology. Among the species we will see are Lasallia papulosa - a warty 'toad skin' lichen that inhabits low rock outcrops - and eight cyanolichens, including 'kidney lichens' such as Nephroma bellum, N. helveticum, and N. parile.

Meeting Place: Participants should meet at 9:00 am in the parking lot of the Natural Heritage Building in Gatineau. From there we will drive roughly six kilometres to the trail head. The outing will wrap up about noon.

Colin Freebury is a Canadian Museum of Nature Research Associate in lichenology and a contributor of time and specimens to the national Lichen Herbarium. His current research focuses on the lichens of Gatineau Park and Grasslands national Park in Saskatchewan.

1:30 BRYOPHYTE WORKSHOP Part I (continues on Monday)

Bryologists Wanted! Jennifer Doubt and Linda Ley
Maximum 12 participants

Considering the ubiquity, beauty, ingenuity and ecological importance of bryophytes, it’s high time that more botanists were noticing and recording the moss, liverwort and hornwort species that are growing in their favourite Ontario natural areas. To support field botanists in learning to find and identify bryophytes (or to find and identify them better!) this 1.5 day workshop aims to create an informal environment where all participants can share and develop their knowledge. On a Sunday afternoon field trip in Ottawa’s gorgeous greenbelt, we’ll explore a diversity of bryophytes in their favourite microhabitats, and make collections for lab examination. In the laboratory at the CMN Victoria Memorial Museum Building, we’ll practice identification skills all day on Monday. Beginners can work through exercises to prepare for using identification manuals, while those that already have some experience can dive right in to work on their collections. We look forward to hosting bryologists of all levels of (in)experience, and to sharing our experience and passion for non-vascular plants.Meeting time and place: Directions will be provided to registrants by e-mail and at the meeting on Saturday. We will meet at 1:30 pm and continue until about 5:30 pm, meeting again at 9 am Monday at the Victoria Memorial Museum Building.

What to bring: Any manuals and equipment of your own you’d like to use (e.g. microscope, forceps). Although there will be no cafeteria service on Monday, there will be a lunch area for those who bring their own lunch, and nearby Elgin Street boasts many restaurants.

Jennifer Doubt is a bryologist and manager of the National Herbarium of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Nature, applying her experience in collecting and identifying mosses across Canada to conservation, research and education. She is a member of COSEWIC and of its Mosses and Lichens subcommittee, and the author of many national and provincial status reports and recovery documents on bryophyte species at risk.

Linda Ley is a bryologist specializing in the collection and identification liverworts, and co-author of An Enthusiasts Guide to the Liverworts and Hornworts of Ontario. As an Ottawa-based independent contractor, she offers technical assistance to researchers in several fields of botanical research (bryology, phycology, lichenology, vascular plants), and is a member of the Mosses and Lichens Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Monday, April 11

(see above)

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