Species Diversity and Conservation
- Ryan Young
Explore Biopolis projects and discover how citizens, researchers, institutions, businesses and community organizations are supporting biodiversity in cities across Canada.
The projects listed on Biopolis are diverse and a source of inspiration for all. They were selected according to their objectives to enhance and preserve urban biodiversity in cities across Canada. Explore our featured projects to discover how citizens, researchers, institutions, businesses and community organizations are working to support urban biodiversity.
In 2012, Ryan Young started a volunteer-driven bird nestbox project in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue with help from a grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the city of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. Initially targeting Wood Ducks, volunteers built 20 large nest boxes with wood and materials donated by Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and placed them in the prime habitats in the municipality that were found in the Morgan Arboretum, the McGill Bird Observatory area, and the Parc-nature de l’Anse-à-l’Orme (wetlands in wooded areas).
With the resulting success of that project, bluebird houses were then placed along the city’s municipal bike path and in open agricultural areas. Ryan has documented each season and recorded all the different species that have used the boxes that include Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, House Wrens, and Black-capped Chickadees. To date, the project counts more than 30 of these nextboxes, and over 80 % are used by Tree Swallows with a high degree of breeding success. Tree Swallows are aerial insectivores and this species along with many other swallow species have been suffering population declines over the last decade.
The project also included erecting three Purple Martin nestbox structures along the shore of Lac St. Louis and the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue canal that have met with some success. The project would not have been possible without the help of dedicated volunteers like George Panciuk and Geoffrey Webster.
Impacts of urbanization on spontaneous flora and urban vacant lots – IRBV – Université de Montréal
Urban areas are composed of a mosaic of new types of habitat (squares at the base of trees, alleyways, fencerows, etc.) where flora can establish itself spontaneously. Vacant lots and meadows are also part of the urban landscape and are rapidly colonized by vegetation and wildlife.
The objectives of this study are to characterize the vegetation of some of these typically urban habitats, to assess the impact of urbanization on plant community composition, and to evaluate the role of exotic species within these habitats. Sampled habitats include wall margins, fencerows, hedgerows and urban meadows. Surveys were conducted throughout the Montreal and Quebec City regions with nearly 200 habitat parcels surveyed within the boundaries of the City of Montreal.
Preliminary results indicate that spontaneous urban flora is strongly dominated by exotic species and that plant communities are similar to one another regardless of urbanization degree. Also, while native and exotic species in Quebec City are very similar in terms of functional traits, those present in the City of Montreal are very different. For example, exotic species in Montreal were found to be generally short-lived with a greater capacity to disseminate over long distances than the recorded native species.
Impacts of urbanization on plant diversity of Montreal woodlands – IRBV – Université de Montréal
Urbanization is characterized by loss and fragmentation of ecosystems. This process often leads to a decrease of the number of native plant species and an increase of exotic species. This phenomenon ultimately leads to the homogenization of urban flora, which means that there will be a loss of diversity among communities of different ecosystems.
This broad scale project comprises of multiple objectives. Namely, it aims to quantify woodland flora of Montreal and its adjacent municipalities, to assess the impact of urbanization intensity on this flora in space and time, to identify species that may serve as indicators of ecological integrity of urban woodlands, and to assist in the deployment of management plans adapted to these ecosystems.
To date, this project has demonstrated that Montreal woodlands boast a rich and diversified flora and that native species are still very abundant within them. In fact, several native species never recorded in the Montreal area or in the province were identified while conducting vegetation surveys in the course of this study. Results also showed that local woodland density is an important factor that determines richness, which supports the need to preserve the totality of these woodlands, down to the smallest patch. These woodlands also play a role in the fight against urban heat islands, thus improving the quality of life of citizens.
Use of phytoremediation to rehabilitate former industrial sites in eastern Montreal – IRBV – Université de Montréal
This project is conducted by the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV) with the financial support of the Service du développement économique de la Ville de Montréal and the Green Municipal Fund of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and close collaboration with the managers and citizens of the Borough of Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles. The objective is to use phytoremediation to rehabilitate contaminated sites and to restore their ecological integrity while producing biomass that may be positively repurposed. The project adheres to a phytomanagement strategy that agrees with the principles of industrial ecology and that promotes sustainable influx management of matter and energy, where refuse from a specific industry becomes a resource for another. Thus, biomass of plants used for soil decontamination may be used to fuel composting and other bioproduct plants.
School gardens are becoming more and more popular everywhere around the world. From Europe to North America, gardening has proven to be a useful learning and recreational tool for children of all ages. However, starting a school garden project may seem labour intensive and complicated for teachers and other school workers.
In response for the need of accessible information and materials, Gardening my School presents itself as a tool for sharing knowledge and expertise about educational gardens. It is intended for anyone who wishes to elaborate an educational garden project or to participate in one.
Whether you are a teacher, parent or citizen, Gardening my School offers resources entirely dedicated to educational gardens that will guide you through your project from start to finish and that will help you to maintain it in the future. Information sheets, activities and games elaborated by education and urban agriculture experts are available at everyone’s convenience on the platform.
The platform caters the needs of Montreal-based projects, but also of those based in other regions in the province. Discover a multitude of unique school gardening projects that will inspire you and bring confidence to your own project achievements!
Do soil fungal communities facilitate invasion of temperate forests by the Norway Maple? – Dawson College – Concordia University – UQAM
The invasion of exotic plant species is a global phenomenon which is significantly altering native plant diversity and ecosystem function. However, the underlying mechanisms by which some introduced, exotic species successfully spread and displace native species remain poorly understood and the consequences of these invasions on the below-ground components of native communities are largely unknown.
Plants in terrestrial ecosystems have evolved in direct and indirect contact with a multitude of soil organisms and the interactions between plants and soil microbes strongly influence both plant and soil community composition and ecosystem processes. As such, the balance of these plant-microbe interactions can play an influential role in mediating the success of plant invasions. In particular, the mutualistsic symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi can play an influential role in the invasion of introduced species.
The Norway Maple is perhaps the most invasive species of trees found in the Province of Québec and is reducing species diversity in invaded areas and is inhibiting the growth of the native Sugar Maple. Both Sugar and Norway maple form symbiotic relationships with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), yet we do not know whether invasive and native maples benefit from associations with AMF in the same ways or to the same extent. Also, there have been no field studies comparing the AMF communities in the roots of the Norway Maple and native maple species in Québec.
Therefore, the aims of this study are to: assess the environmental determinants of the AMF community structure in Sugar Maple and Norway Maple; compare the species composition and colonization rate of AMF communities in native and invasive species of Maple using cutting-edge molecular approach (i.e., genomics) and test whether AMF and soil fungal communities equally affect the growth of native and invasive species using greenhouse experiments.
Agriculture urbaine Montréal is an information hub for all urban agriculture initiatives in the Montreal region. It contributes to the development of the city’s agricultural activities by showcasing and promoting them. Agriculture urbaine Montréal lists and maps the city’s initiatives such as community, collective and balcony gardens, as well as urban farms and apiaries. It also showcases the profiles of project leaders.
Developed and managed by the Urban Agriculture Lab (AU/LAB) since 2011, this platform serves as a gardening resource while fostering the engagement of urban gardeners and promoting garden biodiversity.
Living Campus is the embodiment of Dawson College’s commitment to the improvement of society and exists with three goals. First, to act as a socially and ecologically responsible agent through the identification and management of sustainability performance indicators. Second, to reconnect people, communities, and nature through the development of nature-based action projects that involve real-world ecological problem-solving, increase biodiversity in an urban setting, and cultivate collaboration. Third, Living Campus aims to advance the understanding and teaching of sustainability by building local and international learning communities that foster collaboration and exchange of best practices.
Within the framework of the Living Campus project, Dawson College created a series of green spaces dedicated to biodiversity and sustainable practices on its grounds, with the collaboration of devoted students and teachers. Among these are:
The project also features a nature interpretation program for youth (Naturehood), a Monarch rearing and release project, as well as a network of 6 bird feeding stations.
VERTical is an innovative urban agriculture project that covers an area of 600 m2. It is characterized by vertical self-supporting structures that allow to experiment with different types of natural and synthetic growing media, to contribute to the fight against urban heat islands, to densify food production and to transform urban roofs into biodiversity oases.
The project is part of the Urban Agriculture Laboratory of the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The laboratory’s partner organizations, the Palais des congrès, la Ligne Verte and AU/LAB, have created this experimentation space in order to add a second vocation to the roof of the Palais des congrès, but also to develop and apply rooftop food production techniques.
VERTical has been financed by various stakeholders including the Réseau d’Investissement Social du Québec, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, the Borough of Ville-Marie, the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, the Caisse d’économie solidaire Desjardins and PME MTL Centre-Ville.
Within the innovative movement of urban agriculture, Biquette à Montréal is working to bring pastoral elements back with initiatives to help sheep graze in the city. The main objective of the pilot project, carried out in Pelican Park, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, is the introduction of eco-grazing in contemporary Montreal. Biquette à Montréal was developped within the Urban Agriculture Lab (AU/LAB).
Biquette à Montréal is summed up by three words: graze, educate and enjoy. Graze, by creating grazing areas in Montreal; educate, by creating a public space for citizen education about urban agriculture showcasing their flock of lambs; enjoy, by creating a meeting place with agriculture, which helps us connect to both the rural and the urban. Biquette à Montréal is a gathering place that is educational, fun and interactive all at once.
What better way to celebrate our great city than a locally brewed beer? The Beer for the 375th is a large-scale collaboration between citizens and Montreal brewers. For the next few months, participating breweries will meet in order to elaborate a common recipe and will encourage their followers to plants hops in their respective neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, citizens and local beer enthusiasts across the city are growing hops on walls, roofs, balconies, in back yards, and in alley ways. In the fall of 2017, Montréal Houblonnière will harvest the locally grown hops, and local brewers will produce the Beer for the 375th anniversary of the city, each in their own installations, using hops harvested from their respective neighbourhoods. The end result will be a harvest beer, offered in a wide range of aromas, and will allow citizens to taste the distinctive flavours for each of the Montreal neighbourhoods.
Montréal Houblonnière is an organisation founded in the framework of the event Je vois Mtl. Its mission is to localise and promote the cultivation of hops within the territory of the City of Montreal, and hence, to contribute to the fight against urban heat islands by the greening of vertical structures.
Ever since it was founded, the Cercle Carré Housing Cooperative has been hard at work in the implementation of a green roof project, which represents the focal point of its initial concept. The transformation of the otherwise lifeless roof of the building into a lush community oriented green space renders this project a beacon in its category and a perfect example of thoughtful urban development in a rapidly mutating neighbourhood. Upon realizing the entirety of its project, Cercle Carré will have contributed to the greening of 3000 square feet of roof top space, which would in the end meet the desired expectations that would positively impact life at the Coop and in the neighbourhood:
The Coop called upon the architect Owen Rose and his firm ROSE Architecture as well as Toiture Nature for their help in transforming the roof into an urban oasis comprising of plants native to Quebec, complete with urban agriculture and terrace spaces. The Coop also hosts a number of workshops and cultural events, thanks to a partnership with Éco-quartier Saint-Jacques. Furthermore, Cercle Carré obtained a generous grant from Environment Canada through its Eco Action Program, in order to help the Coop in covering the costs for plants, substrates, architect services and communications.
Help protect threatened species and their habitats.