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Tracking the Response of Arthropod Communities to Changing Environments (TRACE)

The primary goal of TRACE lies in assessing arthropod diversity in three of Canada’s most important ecoregions, two (Mixed Wood Plain, Prairies) that are intensely impacted by human activity and one that is less so (Boreal Shield)

Project Investigators

Paul Hebert, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics

Project Description

The iBOL Consortium is a research network that connects scientists and society to biodiversity. The Consortium consists of partner organizations, including the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, in 30 nations. In June 2019 the group launched a 7-year, $180 million project called BIOSCAN. BIOSCAN will lay the foundation for a global biomonitoring platform. The project will activate a biomonitoring system in each participating nation, while examining the interactions among species at these locations. The DNA reference library will be extended more than three-fold (0.7 million to 2 million species), speeding the capacity of DNA barcoding to protect life.

Project Objectives

TRACE, a key component of Canada’s contribution to BIOSCAN, will assess the diversity of arthropods (insects, spiders, centipedes, etc.) in three important ecoregions. Two of these regions are intensely impacted by human activity and the other is less so. The biodiversity patterns and biomass in natural settings versus in environments impacted by agriculture, forestry or urbanization will be compared.

Potential Impacts

The project will evaluate the impacts of human activity patterns on arthropod biomass and diversity. The information about these patterns will provide the baseline data essential for evaluation and modelling how living components affect other organisms or shape the ecosystem (biotic change). This work will also be able to be applied in other nations and other ecosystems, such as freshwater and marine ecosystems. Ultimately, this work will make use of organisms as indictors of environmental change. It also enables the development of a new branch of science-biotic forecasting. Through such action, the biodiversity science community will generate the information needed to support the formulation of policies that will aid the protection of global biodiversity.

Project Progress

Preliminary project results have expanded the DNA barcode reference library, advanced metabarcoding protocols, and allowed for the development of a cloud-based analytical platform, mBRAVE.

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