Statement on Long-term Ecological Research and Monitoring in Canada

In 1995, the Royal Society of Canada established an expert panel on Long-Term Ecological Research and Monitoring (LTERM), which produced a report1 called “Looking ahead: long-term ecological research and monitoring in Canada”. A highlight of this report was the recommendation that a national LTERM program should be given the highest priority. The panel based their recommendation on 3 main conclusions. Long-term ecological research results in: (1) increased understanding of ecosystem functioning, which leads to better resource management; (2) improved early warning of undesirable trends in ecosystem behaviour, including effects of environmental change; and (3) early tests of the effectiveness of strategies for long-term resource management. In the preface of this report, the panel stated it hoped to influence “the young scientists who will have to live with the consequences of current LTERM funding”.

More recently, Hughes et al. provided a 4th rationale for long-term research: it contributes disproportionately to both ecology and policy2. LTERM is more highly cited by other researchers, and there is a positive relationship between LTERM content and journal impact factor.  Furthermore, Hughes et al. showed that US National Research Council authors disproportionately cite LTERM when summarizing information for decision makers.

Although the recommendations of the Royal Society of Canada panel on LTERM were not pursued, and no LTERM sites have been established in the intervening years, long-term ecological research has persisted in Canada through the fortitude of individuals, the establishment of informal, collaborative networks, and the shifting support of various levels of government. This is not an efficient or effective approach for implementing long-term research and monitoring.

The Royal Society report also recommended, among other things, that a network of LTERM sites be established across Canada; that consideration be given to representativeness,  and both spatial and temporal scale;  that LTERM sites be located in both wilderness and managed landscapes; and that LTERM data be accessible to a variety of users and decision makers, all elements implying some co-ordination among sites. Today, we recognize that there are already many informally established, and invaluable, LTERM sites and researchers across the country, existing outside of the co-ordinated network imagined by the Royal Society.  The absence of such a network reduces the productivity and societal impacts of Canada’s long-term studies. We suggest that many of the aims of the Royal Society panel could be achieved through harnessing these existing LTERM programs, by providing support to improve co-ordination among programs, encouraging collective opportunities, and formalizing the network of researchers and sites. The formation of such an interdisciplinary, investigator-led network is also consistent with recommendations arising from Canada’s recent science review3. As such, we propose to establish a formal network of Long-Term Ecological Research and Monitoring in Canada.


1Canadian Global Change Program. 1995. Looking ahead: long-term ecological research and monitoring in Canada. The Royal Society of Canada, Technical Report No. 95-1.

2Hughes, B.B., et al. 2017. Long-term studies contribute disproportionately to ecology and policy. Bioscience 67: 271-281

3Canada’s Fundamental Science Review. 2017. Investing in Canada’s future: strengthening the foundations of Canadian research. Advisory Panel for the Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science.

Poster presentations!

Here is our line-up of poster titles:

Alexandra Anderson, Erica Nol, Paul Smith, Cheri Gratto-Trevor, R.I.G. Morrison, and Christian Friis.  Shrinking shorebird wings: evidence of morphometric change from James Bay banding data.

Jeff Bowman. 70 years: a history of wildlife research in the Ontario government.

Michael Brown, Jeff Bowman, Gary Burness,  and Paul J. Wilson. The Kawartha Flying Squirrel Project.

Ben Dantzer, Freya van Kesteren, Andrew G. McAdam, Rupert Palme, Murray M. Humphries, Jeffrey E. Lane, Stan Boutin, Rudy Boonstra. The perils and pitfalls in the measurement of physiological biomarkers in longitudinal studies.

Stephen J. Hecnar and Darlene R. Hecnar. The value of long-term monitoring of cryptic endangered species to learn about population trends, management needs and general biology: case study of the five-lined skink.

Dexter P. Hodder and Shannon M. Crowley. Using meso-carnivores as a measure of change in forest ecosystems: a case study from central British Columbia.

 Janet M. Jackson, R. S. Rempel, and S. Van Wilgenburg. Modeling misidentification error in songbird occupancy estimates based on acoustic monitoring.

Cornelya F. C. Klütsch, Micheline Manseau, and Paul J. Wilson. The importance of the inclusion of evolutionary history into wildlife conservation.

Stephanie Mabee. Using stable isotopes to track long-term changes of muskoxen ecology: determining why Ovibos moschatus survived the late Pleistocene mass extinction.

Robby R. Marrotte, Jeff Bowman, and Chad Cordes. Inferring climate optima for furbearers from long-term harvest records.

Kevin C. Morey and Amy E. M. Newman. Epigenetic transmission of the stress response in wild red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus).

Kyle W. Morrison, Ashley A.D. McLaren, Liam A. Kennedy-Slaney, Brent R. Patterson, and Bruce A. Pond. Long term data in support of deer harvest management decisions in Ontario.

Tessa Plint, Keith A. Hobson, Fred J. Longstaffe, and Elizabeth A. Webb. Stable isotope applications in wildlife conservation.

Melanie B. Prentice, Jeff Bowman, Dennis L. Murray, and Paul J. Wilson. Spatial and environmental influences on selection in a clock gene in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).

Pauline Priadka and Glen Brown. Optimizing monitoring of harvested species.

Pauline Priadka, Micheline Manseau, and Paul J. Wilson. Using genetics in conservation planning for boreal woodland caribou.

Robert.S. Rempel and J. N. Robinson. Knowledge management software applied to field classification of provincial ecosites.

Miriam H. Richards. Nest-site competition and the socioecology of reproduction in eastern carpenter bees.

Shannon D. Ritchie, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Marc W. Cadotte, and Andrew M. Lentini. Winter ecology of the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) head-starts.

Crystal Robertson, Shannon D. Ritchie, Leanne Collett, Paul Yannuzzi, Andrew M. Lentini, and Bob Johnson. Summary of a long term study leading to population augmentation for the Threatened Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in an urbanized landscape.

Julia Shonfield and Erin Bayne. Bioacoustics: The beginnings of a new type of long-term data.

Kirsten Solmundson, Colin J. Garroway, Caitlin Ferry, Quinn E. Fletcher, and A. Richard Westwood. Using body condition and giving up densities to determine habitat quality of urban tree squirrels.

Carolyn A. Trombley, Astrid N. Schwalb, Thomas B. Hardy, and Karl Cottenie. Endangered endemic cyprinid minnow exhibits different spatial and temporal patterns to native and invasive species in a perennial desert stream.

Alina Tsimbaliouk, Stefanie M. Colombo, and Michael T. Arts. Dietary long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA + DHA) effects on a crop pest, the Bertha Armyworm (Mamestra configurata).

Jacqueline S. Verstege and James D. Roth. A tale of two foxes.


First announcement of contributed oral presentations

Hugh Broders*. Survivorship and roosting patterns of little brown bats.

Bradley C. Fedy*, and Jeffrey R. Row. Long-term monitoring in sagebrush-steppe habitats: What have we learned from > 60 years of counting sage-grouse?

Anthony J. Gaston*. Changes in Arctic marine bird populations since 1970 and the impact of climate change.

Stephen J. Hecnar*, and Darlene R. Hecnar. Long-term study of the spatial dynamics and structure of a regional amphibian fauna.

Heather M. Kharouba*, Johan Ehrlen, Andrew Gelman, Kjell Bolmgren , Jenica Allen, Steve Travers, and Elizabeth Wolkovich. Linking climate change to shifts in the timing of species interactions: the need for historical baselines.

Jeffrey Lane*, Stephen Dobson, and Jan Murie. Sheep River Columbian ground squirrel project – a model long-term system for eco-evo-energetics research.

Melanie Massey, Ronald J. Brooks, Graham Nancekivell, and Njal Rollinson*. Long-term monitoring of hatchling sex ratios in a species with temperature-dependent sex determination during a period of rapid climate change.

Martyn E. Obbard, Erica J. Newton*, Eric J. Howe, Mark R.L. Cattet, and Kevin R. Middel. Sizable declines:  Changes in skeletal size and weight of Southern Hudson Bay polar bears over 25 years

Brent R. Patterson*, John F. Benson, Karen M. Loveless, Kenneth J. Mills, Linda Y. Rutledge, and Connor Thompson. Long-term assessment of wolf viability in and around Algonquin Park, Ontario.

Lucey Poley*, Justina C. Ray, and Audrey J. Magoun. Modelling wolverine occupancy in northern Ontaro using multi-year occupancy data.

Frances Stewart*, A. Cole Burton, and Jason T. Fisher. Scaling down for the long-term: can provincial-scale models predict landscape-scale distributions?

Alex Sutton*, Dan Strickland, and D. Ryan Norris. Climate-driven carry-over effects on reproductive success of a boreal passerine.

Liana Zanette*, and Michael Clinchy. Quantifying fear effects in wildlife at long-term study sites.