Continuing Trent’s reputation as a leader in environmental science research, a group of Trent students, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Murray, a Canada Research Chair in Integrative Wildlife Conservation and professor at Trent University, will be continuing research in a remote area in southwest Yukon.
Thanks to a recent Research Tools and Instruments grant of $147,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Professor Murray’s team will be purchasing equipment to assess the responses of snowshoe hares to risk of predation by mammals such as coyotes and lynx. Predators are important sources of mortality for snowshoe hares, and it is uncertain whether the mere stress imposed by predation risk in the environment affects hare survival and productivity over and above the obvious costs of predation alone. The equipment will be used to track the physiology and behaviour of adult and juvenile snowshoe hares when they are exposed to the threat of predation.
“This equipment is critical for the rigorous assessment of snowshoe hare responses to perceived predation risk” asserts Melanie Boudreau, who is in the second year of her PhD in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program at Trent. Likewise, Jacob Seguin, who recently graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology from Trent, claims that his M.Sc. project on juvenile snowshoe hare activity would not be possible without access to state-of-the-art equipment for monitoring his young animals. Several other graduate students at the collaborating institutions also will benefit from use of this equipment.
Trent University will add to the long legacy of snowshoe hare research conducted in Canada collaborating with other institutions on the project including the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, McGill University, and University of Toronto.
“This recent grant helps our team remain at the forefront of technological advances and allows us to address research questions that were impossible to answer even only a few tears ago,” said Prof. Murray. By that account, Trent University and its collaborators are poised to leave an important mark on our understanding of how species interact in nature and the costs of environmental stressors on animals.
Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.