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Lecture on salmon-fuelled ecosystems of the Great Bear Rainforest

By Kelly Foss | Sept. 24, 2013

Prof. John ReynoldsA public lecture titled Salmon-fuelled Ecosystems of the Great Bear Rainforest will take place at Memorial University.

Professor John Reynolds holds a Research Chair in Aquatic Conservation at Simon Fraser University. He has served in a variety of scientific advisory roles and is a member of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which makes recommendations for protection under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

The lecture begins at Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation (IIC-2001) on the St. John’s campus.

“British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest is one of the last truly wild ecosystems in North America,” said Prof. Reynolds. “A prominent feature of this maritime rainforest is the interwoven connections between salmon and large carnivores such as bears and wolves. Nutrients from salmon carcasses left behind by these predators can be traced through freshwater and terrestrial food webs, with impacts ranging from aquatic insects to streamside plants and birds.

“This presentation will explore both ecological and conservation implications of these connections between forest, rivers and the sea. When bears and wolves kill salmon, they leave behind carcasses that serve as fertilizer for streams and forests. We have only recently begun to discover how these nutrients, which the salmon acquire while they are at sea, affect the diversity of plants and wildlife in the surrounding forests.”

This lecture marks the 16th Elizabeth R. Laird Lecture hosted by Memorial University. The Laird Lecture was established by a bequest from Dr. Elizabeth Laird, a prominent Canadian physicist who held posts at Yale, Cambridge, Chicago, Mount Holyoke and Western Ontario in the first half of the 20th century.

Dr. Reynolds has also agreed to give a research seminar in the Biology/Ocean Sciences Seminar Series titled The Ecology of Extinction Risk in Fish.

“Fish species are arguably one of the most threatened classes of vertebrates,” he said. “But attempts to classify the risk of extinction are often highly controversial, especially for marine species. I will explore the potential for life history traits and ecological characteristics of species to predict vulnerability, through connections with population dynamics.

“Contrasts between marine and freshwater fishes match new research on birds, mammals, and reptiles,” he added. “These findings help illuminate current controversies concerning the vulnerability of fishes to extinction, including claims that fish cannot be assessed with the same risk criteria as those used for other taxa. More generally, the studies reveal the benefits as well as limitations in using life histories and ecology for prioritizing species in conservation assessments, including those used in Canada and internationally.”

The research seminar will take place Friday, Sept. 27, at 4 p.m. in SN-2067.


Dec. 24, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
D.F. Cook Recital Hall, School of Music
Jan. 1, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
IIC-2014, Bruneau Centre for Research & Innovation
Jan. 9, 1-3 p.m.
IIC-2014, Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation
Jan. 9, 12 a.m.-11:50 p.m.
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