Barcoding Canada – starting with its National Parks

Our National Parks are outstanding representatives of natural landscapes that are established to protect habitats, wildlife, and ecosystem diversity – which may be unique to specific natural regions across Canada. Therefore it is only fitting that when BIO set out to ‘barcode our country’s backyard’, collecting from Canadian National Parks was on top of the list. As of October 2014, BIO has sampled 43 of 45 of Canada’s National Parks.map

The Canadian National Parks (CNP) Malaise Program involved Malaise trapping all across Canada starting with the western region in 2012, next with the eastern region in 2013, and finally completing the list with Canada’s northern and remote parks in 2014. We’ve collaborated with Parks Canada whose staff facilitated the program by servicing our Malaise traps for as little as 1 week to as long as 20 weeks during the summer months. This program provides us with a vast collection of arthropods from every single province and territory in Canada. We’re expecting to find great differences in species biodiversity from the mountains to prairies to boreal forests and coastal regions; and especially to Canada’s northern glaciers.

The BIObus has also travelled to many of these parks, 23 to be exact, where BIO staff and undergraduate students perform more comprehensive arthropod sampling (http://biobus.ca/maps/). Using techniques like sweep netting, Berlese funnels, and pitfall traps, we collect arthropods that may not have otherwise been captured using only Malaise traps. The BIObus crew gets to visit at least four National Parks during their 5-8 week-long portions on the bus and blog about the great scenery and diverse wildlife they see across our country.

Of course, being the second largest country in the world (with an area of almost 10 million square km), there are many more natural regions that we have yet to collect in. This year, BIO also focused Malaise trap efforts in provincial parks in British Columbia and Southern Ontario (http://biobus.ca/catch-this-at-a-park-near-you-the-ontario-malaise-program/). The sum of all these projects will contribute to the overall map of terrestrial arthropod biodiversity that BIO is working towards in the Barcoding Canada Initiative. Having collected from all of Canada’s provinces and territories, and now in nearly every national park, you could say that BIO is well on the way to barcoding Canada’s collective backyard.

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