Solutions to biodiversity losses
“It’s really gratifying to get this much support and attention for my research efforts at the Master’s level. It shows that the University of Ottawa is proud of its students and interested in putting their best achievements forward.”
While global-climate and land-use changes will reduce biodiversity over the next century, the full extent of the losses is difficult for biologists to predict. In new research aimed at improving the ability to forecast the consequences of global change for various species, master’s student Heather Kharouba has studied the impact of global change on butterfly species in Canada over the past 120 years.
“Butterflies are an excellent indicator of the impacts of climate change because their behaviour and physiology are heavily influenced by modifications in temperature and precipitation,” explains Kharouba, who has incorporated her research into computerized models that compare butterfly distributions across Canada between 1880 and 2000.
Kharouba’s efforts are part of a groundbreaking University of Ottawa research approach that studies biodiversity changes on the same broad scales at which climate changes are occurring. This “macroecological” (large-scale) approach, outlined in a recent article in Science by biology professors Jeremy Kerr and David Currie, and Kharouba, will help researchers better predict the future for biodiversity and guide policy makers in crafting big-picture solutions to world-wide biodiversity losses.