The resilience of our planet and the future of humanity rely on biodiversity. After all, biodiversity is the reason why we have air, food, water and medicines. But biodiversity is vulnerable and in many cases in crisis around the world.
In a new series of free public talks planned for October and presented by York University’s Faculty of Science in partnership with Ontario Nature and the Toronto Public Library (TPS), leading thinkers from across the University will consider biodiversity in Canada and abroad. The speakers will explore what is being done to understand and conserve the fascinating animals that have the current attention of researchers.
The series kicks off with a talk titled “The Beauty and Importance of Bees,” presented by Faculty of Science Professor Laurence Packer, a renowned global expert in bees. The talk will take place on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the TPS Don Mills Branch. In his presentation, Packer will offer highlights about the more than 20,000 species of bees in the world, of which approximately 800 species make their home in Canada. Most of them are nothing like the domesticated honey bee. Packer will explain the enormous diversity of bees and the important role that wild bees play in agricultural and wild habitats.
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library, Glendon Professor Valerie Schoof will present her talk titled, “Let’s Talk Primates: Conflict and Conservation.” Biodiversity is increasingly threatened as large areas of tropical forest are lost or modified to accommodate a growing human population. Most primates live in the tropics and are especially vulnerable. Schoof will explain why primate conservation is important to maintaining overall biodiversity. She will highlight the value of understanding how factors like primate behaviour, habitat requirements, human-wildlife conflict and the needs of local human populations interact when developing effective management strategies.
“Life on the Edge: Polar Bears in a Warming Arctic,” is the intriguing title of the next instalment in the series, on Thursday, Oct. 18, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the TPS Brentwood Branch. Climate warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic than the rest of the planet. Polar bears, among other species, have already been negatively affected by climate warming and mounting evidence suggests the worst is yet to come. Professor Gregory Thiemann of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, will explore the current and future status of polar bears and examine why the conservation of these charismatic carnivores has become a hot-button issue.
“Bringing Back the Birds,” a talk by Faculty of Science Professor Bridget Stutchbury, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the TPS Lillian H. Smith Branch. Canada’s north is home to a songbird nursery of billions of migratory birds who undergo a spectacular annual migration to warmer latitudes to escape winter. Decades of monitoring have shown steep declines in many species, but new technology and research suggests it is not too late to fix the problem. A world-renowned expert in songbirds, Stutchbury will review the many causes of songbird declines and what you can do to help.
Faculty of Environmental Studies Professor Gail Fraser’s talk titled “Bad Reputations: Cormorants and Conservation,” will take place Saturday, Oct. 27 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the TPS Deer Park Branch. Fraser will explore the sometimes dicey reputation of cormorants. Since their rapid population recovery in the Great Lakes, double-crested cormorants have developed a bad reputation because they are large, black waterbirds that eat fish, and their nesting habits kill trees. Fraser will describe the important role of cormorants in the Great Lakes ecosystems and how cormorant ecology relates to biodiversity conservation.
For more information about these talks, visit the Faculty of Science website.