Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004

Field naturalists launch biodiversity lecture series

GeeseOn Thursday, 16 September, members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) were privileged to hear a very interesting lecture introducing the theme for this year’s program — “Biodiversity”. At the lecture, Dr. Charles Francis, Chief of the Migrating Birds Section of the Canadian Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa addressed four questions: What is biodiversity? How does Biodiversity arise? Is Biodiversity of any importance? and What are the main threats to Biodiversity?.

Introduced by MVFN member Dr. Don Wiles, the speaker starting his talk by defining what is a species (this is not always clear). Dr. Francis used examples from a large number of photos and illustrations, many of them from the tropical rain forests of south east Asia, where he has extensive experience. These photos aptly demonstrated the nature of biodiversity and also showed a few instances of species that seem more distinct than they really are.

Noting that there are thought to be about 1.4 million species alive on earth today, the speaker showed how population estimates are made, and speculated on the accuracy of the data. On the development of new species, he pointed out that speciation requires isolation from other populations of similar species.

Dr. Francis noted the greatest benefits derived from biodiversity are efficient use of nutrients and protection against mass extinction of monocultures. He pointed out that the biggest threats to continued biodiversity appear to be destruction of habitat and human over consumption.

A lively question period following the lecture brought out further ideas and more and stimulated further conversation on the subject. Dr. Wiles, in thanking the speaker and presenting him with a gift of local herb and garden products, complimented Dr. Francis on a really a memorable lecture, noted for its incisiveness, its balanced perspective and the excellence of its presentation.

Also at the meeting, MVFN Programme chair Tine Kuiper outlined the up-coming programme, including the annual nature walk on Sept. 19, the annual Fall Colours canoe trip, Oct 3 and the speaker for the next meeting, Thursday, Oct. 21, Mr. Mike Yee, Mississippi Valley Conservation, who will talk on the Biodiversity of the Mississippi Watershed. Please consult the MVFN web site for further details.

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Tine Kuiper, Program Chair, MVFN
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004

New Field Naturalists Theme: Gaining a Better Understanding of Biodiversity  

GeeseBiodiversity will be the theme of the upcoming Fall and Winter program of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN). Biodiversity is a relatively new term, which refers to the variability among living organisms from all sources, including land based and aquatic ecosystems, and the ecosystems or communities in which they occur.

The concept of biodiversity represents the ways that life is organized and interacts on our planet. These interactions can take place on scales ranging from the smallest, at the level of genes, to organisms, ecosystems, and even to entire landscapes. Biodiversity is the key to ensuring the continuance of life on earth. It is also a fundamental requirement for adaptation and survival and continued evolution of species. As each of us gain a better understanding of biodiversity, we will be able to make better decisions, starting in our own backyards.

The first speaker in the series, on September 16, 2004, is Dr Charles M. Francis, Chief Migratory Birds, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. In his talk “Biodiversity and Conservation”, Dr Francis will introduce the topic of biodiversity, considering its meaning and patterns at all scales, from local to global, from individuals within species to populations. He will then explore the implications of biodiversity from a conservation perspective, as well as the challenges related to protecting biodiversity in a world of increasing human populations and human activities. The talk will focus particularly on the speaker’s experience in working with birds in Canada and throughout the world, as well as with mammals in south-east Asia. The talk will be liberally illustrated with photographs, many drawn from the speaker’s own field work in Canada and south-east Asia.

Later in the series, on October 21, Mike Yee of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority will speak on Biodiversity of the Mississippi Watershed., and on November 18, Dr Brian Naylor, Ministery of Natural Resources, will talk about the Biodiversity of the Ontario Forest. The topic of biodiversity will be further explored in the new year, where we hope to discuss the role of factors, such as climate change, that may have an impact on biodiversity. Andrea Howard, of the Eastern Ontario Museum of Biodiversity will speak on Communicating the Issues of Biodiversity, and Dr. Bruce Falls, University of Toronto, will speak on Bird Song and Biodiversity. The last speaker in the series, Linda Pim of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, will speak on Planning for Biodiversity.

Mark your calendars for the third Thursday of each month, except December. If you are not yet a member of the MVFN, this may be a good time to join. Meetings take place at the Almonte United Church, at 7:30 pm. Non-members’ will be charged a $5.00 fee. For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett at 256-5013, or consult our web site:

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