Elk and Humans: Cozy neighbours?
Elsabé Kloppers, Community Steward, Kluane Region
Sunday, August 28, 2005, 7:30 pm, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Monday, August 29, 2005, 7:30 pm, Kluane National Park Visitor Reception Centre, Haines Junction
What can happen when wildlife get used to humans in and around towns? And what can be done about it? Wildlife habituation near urban centres can disrupt natural ecological processes and threaten public safety.
Biologist, Elsabé Kloppers, recently completed a Masters degree testing unique non-lethal ways to manage hundreds of habituated elk in the townsite of Banff, Alberta. She compared two methods for managing this problem, both resembling a predator chase sequence: humans with cracker shells vs. border collie herding. The results of her research have changed the way Park Wardens in Banff National Park manage these elk. Join her as she discusses the issue of wildlife habituation, and alternative management options for dealing with the problem.
Avoidable Disasters: Volcanoes and Humans
Grant Heiken, Past-President of the International Association of Volcanology
Wednesday, August 3, 2005, 7:30 pm, Location TBA, Dawson
Even here in the Yukon, most people don't think much about volcanoes-even though we live next door to some of the most active volcanoes in the world. If one of the many Alaskan volcanoes erupted and deposited a 10-centimeter-thick ash fall today, it would disrupt all forms of infrastructure, have health effects, and instil fear and confusion. But, it would be unlikely to end life over an entire region as it could have in the past.
So with the rise of swift transportation and communications, and disaster relief programs in the present day, why are large portions of the world's population still at risk from volcanic disasters? How are peoples' perceptions of volcanoes contributing to disaster prevention efforts? Join Grant Heiken as he looks at the answers to these questions.
Gods and Monsters: Human Perceptions of Volcanoes
Grant Heiken, Freeland, Washington, USA
Sunday, July 31, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Volcanoes are, in the long run, beneficial. They replenish soils, and leave deposits that can, in the future, be used for everything from building stone to kitty litter. However, they also have a darker side. Complete devastation by pyroclastic flows (rapidly-moving currents of hot gas and ash), burial by ash fall, and asphyxiation by volcanic gases are a few of the reasons they strike fear in the hearts of men.
In the past, the Romans viewed the volcanoes Stromboli and Etna as entrances to hell. Our perceptions of volcanic eruptions have improved in modern times, at least in the industrial world, despite Hollywood movies and television series that perpetuate visions of chaos and mayhem. Join Grant Heiken, as he explores the evolution of human perceptions of volcanoes to the present day.
Mt Logan ice cores: Unravelling the puzzle of climatic change in the Northwest Pacific over the last 2,000 years
Christian M. Zdanowicz, Geological Survey of Canada, on behalf of the Mt. Logan ice-core research consortium
Sunday, June 26, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Monday, June 27, 2005, 7:30 pm Kluane Visitor Reception Centre, Haines Junction
At a time when predictions of global warming are heralding the demise of the worlds' glaciers, scientists are turning to these very glaciers for clues into past and future climatic changes, and what drives these changes. Ancient glacier ice can preserve information about past variations in temperature, snowfall, humidity, and on the origin and composition of the air masses from which snow fell.
The series of ice cores drilled through the icefields of the Mt Logan area in 2002 are now providing new insights into the natural processes that orchestrate climatic changes in the Northwest Pacific region. This lecture will provide an update on the scientific investigation of the Mt Logan ice cores, and explain how new findings and hypotheses on climatic change are being revealed and put to the test. In this quest to unravel the climatic puzzle, Chris Zdanowicz will lead you from ice-capped mountains and polar glaciers to the emerald lakes of the Yukon, to Alaskan forests to tropical coral reefs. Join us for the journey!
Science, Story, and Speculation: Science Fiction’s Role in Society
Julie E. Czerneda, author / editor, science fiction and education
Sunday, May 1, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Sunday, May 2, 2005, 7:30 pm Dawson City Museum, Dawson
Scientist or non-scientist. Adult or child. We have two things in common. We share a world being changed every minute by science and technology. And we tell each other stories.
What’s the connection? We talk about what matters to us. Science certainly matters. But the way we best express to one another what we know ... or suppose ... or care about ... is through stories. Stories sink in; stories last; stories have emotion and consequence. Even better, they can be fun.
But what are the stories of science and technology?
Science fiction. Stories that ask one question: what if? Stories that speculate about what could happen if a certain aspect of science or technology existed -- or didn’t. Stories that bring science into the realm of individual lives as well as entire cultures. Stories that are thought experiments about anything we can imagine, from global warming to clothes that change colour, from evolution to code breaking. About science. About us.
Join award-winning and best-selling science fiction author and editor Julie E. Czerneda as she demonstrates how you can use the power of science fiction to consider possible consequences of today’s science issues. For as non-scientists and scientists, children and adults, who live in this changing world -- we need to tell each other these stories too.
Colour, ice and Yukon sheep: Unravelling evolutionary mysteries
John Loehr, PhD candidate, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Sunday, April 17, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Friday, May 6, 2005, 7:00 pm Faro Recreation Centre, Faro
Ever wonder why Yukon sheep vary so much in colour? Are the blackest sheep of the Faro family the toughest? John Loehr, a researcher from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, may have some of the answers. Mammals rarely use colour to communicate, but the sheep in Faro seem to be one of those uncommon few!
John will also tour us through Yukon sheep's family tree. Where did they survive the huge ice sheets of the last Ice Age? Just what is a Fannin's sheep? And when is a Stone's sheep a bighorn sheep? Join us for a few of the answers.
Winging it in the north: Birds, the boreal bounty
Fiona Schmiegelow, Associate Professor, Conservation Biology, University of Alberta
Sunday, April 10, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
The birds of Canada’s boreal forests capture people’s imaginations in many ways. In spring and summer, eager observers are greeted by a plethora of warblers, waterfowl and other winged wonders. In winter, hardy boreal residents with special adaptations to withstand northern challenges brighten feeders and flit through forests. The boreal forests of Canada are diverse and bountiful systems that provide a seasonal pulse of food which contributes to one of the highest diversity of breeding birds found anywhere in North America.
Like canaries of the coalmines in days gone by, birds also act as important indicators of the environmental condition of forests. Over the coming decades, the boreal forests of northern Canada will face unprecedented challenges, as will bird conservation efforts. Join Fiona Schmiegelow, Associate Professor of Conservation Biology, in an exploration of the wonders of winging it in the north with boreal birds and their place in these rapidly changing systems.
Bison: Where have they been and where are they going?
Wes Olson Senior Warden, Elk Island National Park
Sunday, March 6, 2005, 7:30 pm Kluane National Park Visitor Reception Centre, Haines Junction
Sunday, March 13, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
The vast herds of plains bison that once roamed the central great plains of North America were almost exterminated during the slaughter years of the mid 1800s. From an estimated 30,000,000 plains bison during pre-contact times, their numbers were reduced to a mere 85 free-roaming wild bison by the late 1870’s. The purchase of 377 plains bison from Montana by the Canadian Government in 1906-07 saw the beginning of the recovery of this magnificent animal. Bison populations then rose from near extinction levels until they reached the point of over-populating some parks.
In the Yukon, we are still learning how to manage our wood bison population. Wes Olson, Senior Warden, Elk Island National Park, explored the links between wood bison and plains bison: differences and similarities in their size, behaviour and conservation methods. Drawing on over 20 years experience working with bison, he painted a picture of where Canadian bison conservation is at now and where bison conservationists hope to be in the future, and what that means for the Yukon herd.
GMO's: What are they? Where are they? And do we want them in our environment and our bodies?
Sid Katz, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia
Sunday, February 20, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Monday, February 21, 2005, 7:30 pm Kluane Visitor Reception Centre, Haines Junction
Genetically modified organisms (GMO's) are now commonplace. They are present in most foods, including cheeses and cereals. Their use has come from nowhere to being widespread in just over 10 years. But what do we know about GMO's? What benefits do they bring? Are they potentially harmful to those who eat them? Do they affect the 'balance' in the natural world? Why weren't we, the public, involved in the decision to incorporate GMO's into our foods? And should GMO foods be labeled?
Noted scientist and broadcaster, and recent recipient of the Order of Canada, Sid Katz, led off the discussion by telling us what GMO's are, what foods contain them, and what there is to know about their potential benefits and risks. He then moderated a discussion on where we are, and where we are going, with GMO-containing foods and other products of this biotechnological age.
Traveling through the wilderness: how can we make transportation more sustainable?
Quentin Chiotti, Air Programme Director and Senior Scientist, Pollution Probe
Saturday, January 8, 2005, 7:30 pm Kluane Visitor Reception Centre, Haines Junction
Sunday, January 9, 2005, 7:30 pm Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Travel in the north often involves driving through a vast wilderness of mountains and lakes. Similarly, to reach most large cities in North America, you can travel for hours through a wilderness of suburbia before reaching the city centre. Have you ever found yourself driving down yet another “Evergreen Crescent” with no exit (or evergreen) in sight? Whitehorse suburbia (country residential) is cloaked in forest, but extends 20 km north and south of the downtown core. How do poor urban design and land use planning contribute to a lack of sustainable transportation modes?
Transportation, air issues and human health are all linked through health risks such as respiratory illnesses, obesity and diabetes. They particularly affect youth and children, so who better to propose solutions to the problem? As part of his lecture, Dr. Quentin Chiotti, of Pollution Probe, will present the findings and recommendations of high school students from Markham and Peterborough, Ontario. What lessons can we in the north take from their experiences?
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! True Tales of Ice Age Carnivores in Ancient Beringia
Paul Matheus, Alaska Quaternary Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
December 5, 2004, 7:30 pm, Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
December 6, 2004, 1:00 p.m. Yukon College, Carcross
Imagine lions, wolves, enormous bears, saber-toothed cats, and wolverines roaming across a virtually treeless Yukon landscape, preying and scavenging on giant bison, tiny horses, woolly mammoths, and the occasional muskox or caribou. Not long ago - less than a thousand human generations - that was the scene in the Ice-Age world of Beringia.
Paul Matheus has spent the last decade studying the fossilized bones of prehistoric carnivores and their prey in Alaska and the Yukon. Join him as he weaves together evidence ranging from stable isotopes to ancient DNA to paint a picture of the life and times of Beringia’s fanged inhabitants.
Northern Fisheries, Northern Solutions
Terry Dick, Professor, NSERC Northern Research Chair, Department of Zoology, University of Manitoba
November 7, 2004, 7:00 pm, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Northern fish and their habitats are under siege. Human development and environmental changes, such as global warming, are placing ever-increasing pressures on northern aquatic ecosystems. New arctic marine fisheries, oil & gas, transportation, mining and hydroelectric development are all sources of stress for northern marine and freshwater ecosystems. How do we assess and limit their impacts?
In the north, where subsistence fisheries are crucial to many communities, solutions involve traditional, local and scientific knowledge. In Nunavut, the char fishery is managed by the Hunters and Trappers Association together with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Dr. Terry Dick and his colleagues provide these groups with scientific knowledge based on research questions developed in cooperation with elders and other local fishermen. Working with the Nunavut Research Institute and Arctic College, Dr. Dick is also exploring the use of sonar technology to map lake bottoms and fish movements. Local college students are being trained in his research methods. The long-term objective, he says, is the development of northern groups that will take the lead in major research projects.
Dragonflies North of 60
Syd Cannings, Coordinator, Yukon NatureServe, Whitehorse
October 17, 2004, 7:30 pm, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Dragonflies are astonishing animals, and they have fascinated people down through the ages with their bright colours and dashing flight. In the last two or three decades, in particular, dragonfly-watching has been gaining in popularity. Most insects are small and difficult to observe, but dragonflies are large, colourful, and easy to find. Like us, they live in a visual world, hunting their prey with big, complex eyes. Their lives are full of sex and violence. We can relate to them!
Dragonflies are mainly a tropical group of insects, but a number have established themselves in northern climates, and they are often the dominant invertebrate group in northern wetlands. There are 39 known species living in the Yukon - a number that is small enough to make it relatively easy to recognize the different species, but large enough to make solving the various puzzles of their distribution intriguing and, at times, difficult. In this talk, Syd Cannings, Yukon NatureServe Coordinator, will explore the world of dragonflies and introduce you to the fascinating species living north of 60.
About Blue Skies, Red Sunsets, and Icefog Days - Some Science Behind What We See in the Sky
Ken Severin, University of Alaska Fairbanks
September 26, 2004, 7:30 pm, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Those of us in the north look at the sky more often than many folks in the lower latitudes, but have you ever thought about why the sky is blue, why sunsets are red, and what the heck is going on with icefog?
Ken Severin will explain some of the reasons why the sky is blue (and more blue overhead than at the horizon), why the sun is red when it rises or sets, and why we can see some of these things better in the north than our relatives in the more polluted south.
One of those special things is icefog, made of tiny, elegant ice crystals. In January and February of 2004, Ken Severin and Walt Tape, professor of Mathematics, made electron microscope images of the crystals that compose icefog. Ken will explain the crystals' shape and what these shapes mean in relation to atmospheric phenomena such as halos. He will also compare the icefog crystals of Whitehorse with those of Fairbanks and other places at extreme latitudes.
Ken Severin is the Director of the Advanced Instrumentation Lab at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a multi-instrument multi-user multi-discipline facility. As such he is fortunate to get to work on a little bit of everything, from volcanology to semiconductors to fish biology (his main focus of late). A chance meeting at a seminar led to pioneering work on the microscopy of ice crystals with a mathematics professor.