I would venture to guess many of us have witnessed a cat with a dying songbird. Nature’s red domestic. But have we stopped long enough to think about the extent to which our house pets are responsible for declines of songbird populations? What other human activities reduce populations of songbirds and other birds from our (sub)urban and natural landscapes and our agro-ecosystems? There are many such direct sources of mortality including pesticide ingestion, destruction of nest or nesting hens by farm and forestry machinery, hunting the birds themselves, collisions with automobiles, buildings and cell phone towers or windmills and slicking from oil spills. But what are their single and combined impacts? Paul Smith, a research scientist recently hired at the National Widlife Research Centre, has recently been a guest editor, along with Travis Longcore, of an important series of contributed papers on this theme, in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology.
Worldwide, scientists are being asked to become better communicators. Wildlife research presents a unique opportunity for science communication in northern communities. Between 2007 and 2011, Environment Canada and Carleton University partnered with the Nunavut Arctic College and other agencies to provide a learning opportunity that integrated marine bird research in the territory with local traditional knowledge and the training of students. Over the course of the project, both the researchers and the educators refined the program through lessons learned including the mismatch between researcher programs and education program timing; the need for dedicated funding and time for development of the program; and, the need for adequate space and infrastructure support. This program is just one way in which northern research can integrate the needs of the local community and involve northern residents. This is an important step in enhancing long term capacity in the north. More on this unique partnership program and further developments can be found by visiting Jennifer Provencher's website. Jenn is a PhD student co-supervised with Grant Gilchrist at NWRC.
Professor & student