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For 40 years, the Biological Survey of Canada (BSC) has encouraged and organised studies of the arthropod fauna of Canada, through the wide involvement of the scientific community and the leadership of an expert steering committee. The benefits of the BSC to science include the completion of major cooperative projects to acquire and synthesise knowledge (documenting faunas in the Yukon, Canadian grasslands, and other significant regions and habitats), the assembly and organisation of information and specimens, and improved communication among entomologists. Its efforts have led to valuable monographs, scientific briefs, newsletters, and other products summarised here, including documents that are also useful to those outside entomology. Key operating principles of the BSC are identified. In particular, decisions come from broadly based scientific considerations, an approach to understanding the fauna that guarantees the scientific relevance of the work and is not offset by political or other influences. Core work is planned over the long term to ensure collaboration, focus, efficiency, integrity, quality, productivity, and delivery. The achievements of the BSC over many years confirm the effectiveness of this model for scientific cooperation.
The Biological Survey of Canada initiated a project in 1979 to collect and synthesise information on the native arthropod fauna of the vanishing grassland habitats of Canada. At that time, it was thought that the Canadian arthropod fauna might comprise about 66 000 species. Recent studies suggest that the fauna may exceed 100 000 species, of which >25% may occur in the Prairies Ecozone. Results of this near 40-year project have been published in four volumes of the Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands monograph series of the Biological Survey of Canada. Here, the editors of this series review the grasslands project of the Biological Survey of Canada, summarise the contents of the volumes, and discuss current knowledge on the diversity of the grasslands arthropods of Canada. Whereas information on the species richness of some groups in the Prairies Ecozone is largely complete, information on the diversity of many other groups remains sparse. Reviewing the steps between initiation and publication of the Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands series may aid development of similar projects elsewhere. Identifying knowledge gaps will direct future research efforts. Identifying the diversity of grassland arthropods, their distribution and abundance, and the ecosystem services that they provide will facilitate efforts to conserve the remaining grassland habitats in Canada.
The prairie grasslands have been transformed to become the primary source of agricultural production in Canada. Soon after its establishment, the Biological Survey of Canada recognised the urgent need to document the arthropods of the prairie grasslands, especially in the few pristine remnants. Although this initiative has yielded considerable progress in documenting the species present in the Prairies Ecozone, comprehensive ecological studies are sparse. Landscape effects on arthropods are well studied elsewhere, but no equivalent studies have been published for the Canadian Prairies. Crop rotation varies landscape composition annually, changes host plant resources in fields, and interacts with other agricultural inputs to disturb pest and beneficial arthropods. Despite only a handful of studies on grazing, there is an emerging pattern: moderate grazing increases arthropod diversity and benefits certain arthropod guilds. Abiotic inputs elicit variable responses from different arthropod taxa; Carabidae (Coleoptera) are best studied, with some information available for ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and aquatic arthropods. Biotic inputs include arthropods released for biocontrol of weed and insect pests; evidence indicates that biocontrol agents of insects have a greater potential for impact on native communities of arthropods. The studies reviewed here reveal important trends and research gaps to be addressed in the future.
Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes) are taxonomically and ecologically diverse, with a wide range of social complexity, nesting preferences, floral associations, and biogeographic restrictions. A Canadian bee checklist, greatly assisted by the gene-assisted approach of DNA barcoding, is nearing completion. Previous evaluation of bee diversity in Canada, assisted by DNA barcoding, was restricted to Nova Scotia, which contains about 25% of the bee species in the country. Here, we summarise efforts to date to build a comprehensive DNA barcode library supporting bee taxonomic studies in Canada, consisting of more than 12 500 barcode-compliant sequences yielding 811 distinct barcode index numbers (BINs). This appears to represent ~95% of the 856 bee species presently recorded from Canada, but comparison with known morphological species in each genus shows that some genera are still under-sampled or may contain cryptic taxa, with much taxonomic work still to be done on bees in Canada. This is particularly true within the taxonomically difficult genera Andrena Fabricius (Andrenidae), Hylaeus Fabricius (Colletidae), Melissodes Latreille (Apidae), Nomada Scopoli (Apidae), Osmia Panzer (Megachilidae), and Sphecodes Latreille (Halictidae). DNA analysis will likely be a key asset in resolving bee taxonomic issues in Canada in the future, and to date has even assisted studies of well-known bee taxa. Here we present summaries of our results, and discuss the use of DNA barcoding to assist future taxonomic work, faunal lists, and ecological studies.
Broad-scale aquatic insect ecological studies are an important potential source of biodiversity information, though taxa lists may contain outdated names or be incompletely or incorrectly identified. We re-examined over 12 000 archived Ephemeroptera (mayfly) specimens from a large environmental assessment project (Mackenzie Valley pipeline study) in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Canada (1971–1973) and compared the results to data from five recent (post-2000) collecting expeditions. Our goals were to update the species list for Ephemeroptera for Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and to evaluate the benefits of retaining and re-examining ecological samples to improve regional biodiversity information, particularly in isolated or inaccessible areas. The original pipeline study specimen labels reported 17 species in 25 genera for the combined Yukon and Northwest Territories samples, of which six species and 15 genera are still valid. Re-examination of specimens resulted in 45 species in 29 genera, with 14 and seven newly recorded species for Northwest Territories and Yukon, respectively. The recent collecting resulted in 50 species, 29 of which were different from the pipeline study, and five of which were new territorial records (Northwest Territories: four species; Yukon: one species). Re-examination of archived ecological specimens provides a cost-effective way to update regional biodiversity information.
Citizen science involves voluntary participation in the scientific process, typically by gathering data in order to monitor some aspect of the natural world. Entomological citizen science, as an extension of traditional amateur entomology, is an active field in Canada, with online databases such as eButterfly and BugGuide attracting both contributors and database users. As well, traditional amateur entomology continues to be important in Canada, as do short-term insect-themed educational events, the involvement of amateurs in entomological societies, and online crowdsourcing initiatives. Success of citizen science projects can be measured in many ways. In terms of published papers that analyse trends in citizen science data, Canadian projects have only begun to deliver. More valuable are particular records that improve our knowledge of geographic ranges and phenology. In terms of the endurance of particular projects, and the willingness of volunteers to participate, citizen science entomology in Canada is clearly a success. However, quality control of citizen science data remains an issue for some projects. As well, challenges remain with respect to balancing the goals of researchers, participants, and supporting institutions.
Ceropales bipunctata Say (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae) is a cleptoparasitic spider wasp that has declined significantly in parts of its range. New survey work has revealed that the species is common and widespread in dune habitat along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in New Brunswick, Canada. Its host was determined as Anoplius cleora (Banks) (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae), with Arctosa littoralis (Hentz) (Araneae: Lycosidae) as prey, the first host record for this species. The relative abundance of C. bipunctata in coastal New Brunswick sharply contrasts with a decline in Ontario, Canada, where it was thought to be extirpated. Based on body size, habitat, and locality overlap we postulate that the primary host of C. bipunctata in Ontario and western Québec, Canada, is a different species, Anoplius aethiops (Cresson), with A. atrox (Dahlbom) as a likely secondary host in southwestern Ontario. Both species are closely related to A. cleora and have undergone a decline in eastern Canada. Based on these new findings, we reassess the conservation status of C. bipunctata in Canada.
The balsam twig aphid Mindarus abietinus Koch (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is a major pest of economic importance for the Christmas tree industry. Global warming during the 21st century could potentially increase local population densities and reinforce the pest status of this aphid in commercial fir (Abies Miller; Pinaceae) plantations in Québec, Canada. During this study, we tested the effects of a warmer environment on colony growth rates of M. abietinus and aphid morph composition during the second generation of its cycle, which is key to colony size growth and potential damage to Christmas trees. We monitored M. abietinus populations on two host fir species and one host fir variety, in order to understand the early season dynamics of this aphid and its host tree. It was possible to distinguish the two overlapping generations of winged aphids leaving colonies, which led to observing a much higher proportion of wingless daughters, produced by the stem mother, than what had previously been reported. Colony growth rates were significantly higher in a warmer environment than in the nearby plantation, suggesting that warmer temperatures in late spring and early summer may provide the suitable conditions required for M. abietinus colonies of greater density.
Pandemis limitata (Robinson) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is one of several leaf-feeding caterpillar pests of commercial tree-fruit crops in British Columbia, Canada. Recent discovery that European Pandemis Hübner species are attracted by lures combining acetic acid and the caterpillar-induced apple-leaf volatiles, 2-phenylethanol, and phenylacetonitrile, prompted our examination of P. limitata response to these compounds. Trapping tests in organic apple orchards revealed that neither of these individual benzenoids, nor their binary combination, was attractive. Acetic acid alone was weakly attractive, but more importantly, catches increased significantly when an acetic-acid co-lure was combined with 2-phenylethanol or phenylacetonitrile, individually and together. Catches of male and female P. limitata with acetic acid+2-phenylethanol, or acetic acid+2-phenylethanol+phenylacetonitrile were similar, respectively, and both sexes were caught significantly less often in traps baited with acetic acid+phenylacetonitrile. When combined with acetic-acid co-lures, traps baited with membrane dispensers releasing 2-phenylethanol at ~1 mg/day caught significantly more moths than traps baited with rubber septa lures releasing 2-phenylethanol at ~0.6 mg/day. Moth catches in traps baited with 2-phenylethanol were unaffected when the emission of acetic-acid co-lures was increased from ~28 to 63 mg/day. Catches of male P. limitata in traps baited with sex pheromone were significantly greater than catches in traps baited with acetic acid+2-phenylethanol, or traps baited with a ternary blend of acetic acid+2-phenylethanol+sex pheromone. Catches of female P. limitata in traps baited with acetic acid+2-phenylethanol were significantly reduced when it was combined with sex pheromone. Use of the ternary acetic acid+2-phenylethanol+phenylacetonitrile blend provides an opportunity to develop multispecies bisexual trapping systems to improve management of sympatric tortricid pests currently causing economic losses in organic apples in British Columbia. More work on long-lasting release devices, nonsaturating traps, and organically acceptable killing agents are needed to develop organic mass-trapping systems.