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A guide to working from home, COVID-19 style

A guide to working from home, COVID-19 style

by Chelsey Paquette

I think that most people can agree upon one thing; working from home sounds like a great idea. That is, until a global pandemic forces you to work from home for an unexpected period of time. 

Work from Home? | Work quotes funny, Working from home meme, Work ...

People all over the world are currently facing a similar challenge: maintaining the motivation to work from home. The purpose of this piece is to provide you with some resources and tips on how to work from home, avoiding the situation pictured above. It is important to note that these resources and tips are not necessarily going to work for everyone. Each of us are facing different challenges during confinement, so please be aware that these tips just might not be possible for you and that is perfectly fine, the most important thing is that you keep yourself safe. 

Be organized

Being organized does not come naturally for everyone, but I promise you, it is something that everyone can work on. Fortunately for me, being organized is probably one of my best qualities (I challenge you to find someone who would disagree with that). Here are a few tips you can follow to stay organized and motivated to work from home.

Plan the upcoming week (COVID or not, this is a great habit to get into).

Every Sunday evening, I sit down with my agenda and plan. If you don’t already have an agenda and can’t go out and buy one, or simply prefer an electronic version, Google Calendar is a great place to start. Planning your week in advance prepares your mind and body for what is to come, I find this method makes Monday mornings much more efficient. The level of detail in which you prepare your week is up to you. I tend to go the more detailed route, planning my day, down to the hour, noting:

  • Work periods 
  • Breaks 
  • Self-care periods
  • To-do lists for each day
27+ Agenda Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

Not only does this method force you to get organized, it motivates you daily with a list of things to accomplish and keeps your day structured, similar to when you weren’t working from home. If you can’t plan a week in advance, this method can be modified to planning your workday the night before. 

Plan your meals. T

rust me, this is a big time (and money) saver. There are a variety of options you can take when planning meals. I usually prepare my lunches for the entire week Sunday night, and make dinner on the fly, with whatever ingredients I have. However, during this period of self-isolation, I have resorted to preparing a list of possible dinner meals, based on the ingredients that I have bought, and the leftovers become my lunch for the next day. This way, I ensure I eat well, and I don’t waste time during my workday preparing a lunch. 

Five Tips to Finally Start Meal Planning (for real)

Make lists.

Finally, I cannot stress more the importance and usefulness of “to-do lists”, or just lists in general. I generally prepare a weekly to-do list and a long-term to-do list. These lists allow me to see, on one piece of paper, what I need to get done. I recommend keeping the list in eyesight while working and adding to your list as things come up, you’ll be sure not to forget anything. Don’t forget to cross those things off the list once they are completed!

Comic by Toothpaste For Dinner: done todo list | Toothpaste for ...

Practice self-care

I think we can all make a little time to be well. Here I am referring to any type of activity that can improve your physical and mental wellbeing (e.g. meditation, sports, crafts, socializing etc.). Set aside time every day for health and wellness. Personally, I try to schedule in wellness time during hours in the day when I know I will not be needed or efficient at work. This allows me to maximize my work hours and wellness hours. I also set aside my evening for socializing and relaxing. 

Garfield | Daily Comic Strip on February 5th, 2019

Be the office 

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a true home office. So, my mentality is to “be the office”. Obviously, you cannot transform yourself into an office, but you can transform your space and your mentality. Create an office-like space in a place that you do not already associate with relaxation. If you have no choice but to make your office in your bedroom or on your couch, change the layout or arrangement of the space for working, and return it back to the way it was when it is time to relax. Another recommendation is to dress as if you were going into work, as opposed to staying in your pajamas all day. Personally, this doesn’t help me, but a pair of noise cancelling headphones definitely does the trick! 

A few more things!

Don’t be so hard on yourself and be kind to others, we are going through a once in a lifetime situation and everyone is adapting to it differently. Communicate with friends and co-workers. Diversify your environment and daily tasks to help you stay focused and motivated. Start new projects and collaborations. Don’t forget to smile, ça va bien aller.

Rainbow Paint Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

More resources:

A person standing next to a body of water

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Chelsey Paquette is a master’s student in the Université de Sherbrooke. Her research, conducted under the supervision of Prof. Dany Garant, Prof. Patrick Bergeron and Prof. Jade Savage, focuses on the determinants of bot fly parasitism in the eastern chipmunk. Chelsey lives a busy and upbeat lifestyle incorporating school, work, wildlife watching and several indoor and outdoor activities into her schedule on a daily basis. 

The role of scientists in the post-truth era

by Ananda Martins

In the past few days, I have been preparing an invited talk about the importance of scientific communication in the post-truth* era to present at the Brazilian Congress of Zoology. I start my presentation by showing real examples of news headlines from important Brazilian and international newspapers. Examples include the rising waves of disbelief in vaccines, global warming and the theory of evolution. I thought about being daring and taking the discussion into the political field. However, I stopped for a moment and pondered: “Talking about politics in a Brazilian scientific meeting could be dangerous nowadays”. As I learned during my high school philosophy classes “everything involves politics, everything is connected”, and after choosing to take a chance, I am trying to develop a discussion about the role of scientists within contemporary society. 

I consider this topic of utmost importance – it is increasingly common to relativize what is ethical, moral and/or legal in an attempt to justify actions or thoughts that are previously seen as questionable. This is the case in academia as well. With the increasing power of social media, it is not uncommon to see fierce and opinionated arguments, usually accompanied by rude comments, in an attempt to superficially convince people and obtain a greater number of “likes”. The dissemination of scientific topics on social media needs to be done with responsibility and impartiality, without seeking personal satisfaction or defending opinions without scientific support. For example, at some point, people decided to share the blatant misinformation that vaccines are harmful to human health, even though scientific data shows the opposite, and today we are facing a measles outbreak in Brazil. What is the role of scientists in such a scenario?

First, as scientists, we need to investigate why we are living in the post-truth era. Three topics of importance include: the spread of (mis)information throughout social media, conducting in-depth and often slow investigations that tend to gain less importance due to being “out of date already” and the role of leaders, whether they are advisors, politicians, or celebrities, who use (mis)information to influence their audiences. It is worth mentioning that the tendency to discredit facts in favor of beliefs, superstitions, personal opinions or fake news is not something new, but it occurs nowadays at a faster rate than it did in the past. The scientific community must also be aware of some attitudes that amplify perverse interpretation of results in the post-truth era. Scientists tend to isolate themselves from the rest of society, believing that only fellow scientists are capable of understanding scientific research. The public is composed of a variety of different opinions and science can and should use tools to make scientific results accessible to interested audiences and the general public. 

Second, the evaluation system of scientists’ work is based almost exclusively on the number of publications and citations, which encourages the practice of publishing scientific data in a reductionist manner in order to divide data into the largest possible number of articles. As a result, self-plagiarism practices are increasingly common. The solution to this problem seems too complex to be resolved quickly, but it definitely needs to be rethought and eventually restructured. What is the value of a publication? For example, what if a group of scientists which are part of a larger study group publish part of the data in a hurry without the knowledge of all the scientists involved, potentially prejudicing other results and another article already in progress. Does that go against professional ethics? How can students, generally followers of their supervisors’ practices, reflect on the importance of their professional training, which goes far beyond learning how to collect and analyze data? How do we include a concept of ethics as part of the future scientists’ training when the system itself stimulates the practice of rushed publishing? Are scientific journals truly prepared to assess the originality and credibility of articles? Can the data generated by a group of researchers be used by one of those researchers without the knowledge of everyone involved? Who owns a scientific idea? There are certainly no owners of science. It is the common heritage of humanity. But individual ideas and scientific projects are also the property of those who thought of them first and shepherded them to fruition, who put their blood, sweat and tears into them. There are so many cases of scientific misconduct that it has become necessary to create awareness and control platforms to remedy cases of scientific dishonesty (some examples are COPE, Pubpeer and ORI). An even more complex question is: what constitutes a lack of ethics in science? Could it be that if the system for evaluating the quality of a scientist’s work was not based solely on the number of citations and articles published, then we might not have so many cases of scientific misconduct? 

Third and lastly, outreach training during a scientist’s career is an important point to be discussed. The vast majority of scientists believe that science communication and outreach is essential and that it is necessary to use accessible language so that different audiences can understand how research is carried out and how its results directly or indirectly affect society. However, the practice does not reflect the speech. After all, an informed society, able to argue and exercise critical thinking will be able (and hopefully habituated) to make decisions based on strong facts. Unfortunately, substantial discussions on ethics, politics, and scientific communication are lacking during our training. We often also fail to realize that partnerships and collaboration are often necessary to make your research freely available to anyone who is interested (partnerships with journalists, designers, professors and artists are some examples), especially if one lacks skills associated with scientific communication.

All these points elucidate the need to include education in ethics, politics and communication as part of researchers’ training so that science can optimally become more than just the bare production of data and can be shared within ethical principles. After all, sharing knowledge and science credibility should not be undermined by scientists themselves.  

* Post-truth (Oxford dictionary):

 Relating to circumstances in which people respond more to feelings and beliefs than to facts.

A close up of a logo

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Examples of the post-truth era characteristics. First line, general characteristics. Second line, academia attitudes that amplify the interpretation of results in the post-truth era.

O papel do cientista na era da pós-verdade

Nos últimos dias, estive preparando uma palestra sobre a importância da comunicação científica na era da pós-verdade* para o qual fui convidada a apresentar no Congresso Brasileiro de Zoologia. Nela, eu começo mostrando exemplos reais de notícias vinculadas a importantes jornais do Brasil e do mundo. Entre os exemplos estão as crescentes ondas de descrença nas vacinas, no aquecimento global e na teoria da evolução. Pensei em ousar e levar a discussão para o campo político. Parei e ponderei. “Falar de política em um congresso brasileiro neste momento pode ser perigoso”. Mas como aprendi nas aulas de filosofia do ensino médio “tudo envolve política, está tudo conectado”. Optei por arriscar e a partir daí estou buscando desenvolver uma reflexão sobre o papel do cientista na sociedade contemporânea. 

Considero esse tema de extrema importância, pois é cada vez mais frequente a relativização do que é ético, moral e legal, na tentativa de justificar ações ou pensamentos, antes vistos como, no mínimo, questionáveis. No ambiente acadêmico não é diferente. Na era da rapidez da informação via redes sociais, não é raro nos defrontarmos com desabafos e defesas acirradas de convicções e, muitas vezes agressivas, na tentativa de convencimento fácil e obtenção de maior número de “likes”. Assim, a divulgação de temas científicos em redes sociais precisa ser feita com responsabilidade e imparcialidade, sem buscar satisfação pessoal ou defesa de opiniões sem respaldo científico. Por exemplo, em algum momento, um grupo resolveu divulgar a ideia de que vacina faz mal a saúde humana, ainda que os dados científicos mostrem o oposto, e hoje temos um surto de sarampo no Brasil, doença que havia sido considerada erradicada em 2016. Mas, afinal, onde entram os cientistas nesse cenário? 

Antes de tudo, como cientistas temos que tentar entender por que estamos vivendo a era da pós-verdade*. Algumas possíveis causas que merecem atenção são: a facilidade criada pelos meios de comunicação em criar e divulgar (des)informação unido à velocidade do mundo moderno fazendo com que a averiguação dos fatos seja considerada de importância secundária ou até mesmo sem importância. Vale ressaltar que a tendência em desmerecer fatos em favor de crenças, superstições, opiniões pessoais ou notícias falsas não é algo novo, porém nunca se deu na velocidade de transmissão como nos dias atuais. Outro ponto que merece destaque é a atuação de líderes, sejam eles orientadores, políticos, celebridades, que usam (des)informação para influenciar públicos para algum fim. 

Seguindo a mesma linha de raciocínio e respondendo à questão levantada sobre o papel dos cientistas, a comunidade científica deve estar atenta a algumas atitudes que somente ampliam os resultados perversos da pós-verdade*. Nos parágrafos a seguir, discuto três pontos importantes a serem reconsiderados na cultura acadêmica.

Primeiramente, a cultura da superioridade intelectual, em que cientistas se isolam da sociedade como se não fizessem parte ativa dela, acreditando que somente os seus colegas cientistas são capazes de compreender as pesquisas realizadas. Aqui, é importante frisar que cada público tem suas particularidades e, assim como as demais áreas, a ciência pode e deve usar de ferramentas para aproximar suas pesquisas dos diferentes públicos interessados e colocar fatos científicos a disposição do público geral.

Segundo, o sistema de avaliação do trabalho do cientista baseado quase que exclusivamente em número de publicações e citações, o que estimula a prática de publicação de dados científicos de maneira reducionista, ou seja, dividindo os dados em maior número possível de artigos. Com isso, práticas de autoplágio são cada vez mais comuns. A solução para esse problema parece complexa demais para ser resolvida rapidamente, mas precisa definitivamente ser repensada e caminhar em direção a uma reestrutura. Qual o valor de uma publicação? Por exemplo, se uma equipe de cientistas que faz parte de um grupo de estudo maior se apressa a publicar parte dos dados sem o conhecimento de todos os envolvidos, prejudicando assim outros resultados e outro artigo já aceito, configura falta de ética profissional? Como os alunos, seguidores das práticas dos seus orientadores, podem refletir sobre a importância de sua formação profissional, que vai muito além de aprendizagem de coleta e análise de dados? Como inserir na formação do futuro profissional os conceitos e princípios da ética, quando o próprio sistema estimula a prática de corrida por publicações? Os jornais científicos estão verdadeiramente preparados para avaliar a originalidade e credibilidade dos artigos? Os dados gerados por um grupo de pesquisadores podem ser usados por um pesquisador sem conhecimento dos demais envolvidos? A quem pertence uma ideia científica? Certamente não existem proprietários da ciência. Essa certamente é livre. Mas as ideias e os projetos científicos escritos são, claramente, propriedade de quem os pensou primeiro. São tantos os casos de “scientific misconduct” que foi necessária a criação de plataformas de conscientização e até de fiscalização para remediar casos de desonestidade científica (alguns exemplos são a COPE, Pubpeer e ORI). Uma pergunta ainda mais complexa é o que configura falta de ética na ciência. Será que se o sistema de avaliação da qualidade do trabalho de um cientista não fosse unicamente baseado no número de citações e artigos publicados teríamos tantos casos de má conduta científica? 

Terceiro, a falta de treinamento em comunicação e extensão científica durante a formação profissional do cientista é um ponto importante a ser discutido. A grande maioria dos cientistas acredita que divulgar ciência é essencial e que é necessária a utilização de uma linguagem acessível para que diferentes públicos entendam como são realizadas as pesquisas e como seus resultados afetam direta ou indiretamente a sociedade. Afinal, uma sociedade informada, capaz de indagar e exercer pensamento crítico estará propensa a tomar decisões baseadas em fatos. Infelizmente, faltam discussões sobre ética, política e divulgação científica durante a nossa formação. Falta também a conscientização de que não é porque você não tem uma certa habilidade (a de divulgar ciência, por exemplo) que ela não é importante. Falta humildade em admitir que são necessárias parcerias (muito cuidado e atenção com as parcerias!) para suprir as necessidades de fazer com que sua pesquisa esteja livremente disponível para quem se interessar, parcerias com jornalistas, designers, professores e artistas são alguns exemplos.

Todas essas questões nos mostram a necessidade do ensino de ética, política e comunicação durante a formação dos pesquisadores para que a ciência seja mais do que a produção de dados, e que sua divulgação seja feita dentro de princípios éticos. Afinal, o compartilhamento de conhecimento e a credibilidade da ciência não podem ser abaladas pelos próprios cientistas. 

* Pós-verdade (dicionário Oxford): 

Relacionado às circunstâncias nas quais as pessoas respondem/confiam mais em sentimentos e crenças pessoais do que em fatos.


Burke, Katie L. Fighting science misinformation. 2019. American Scientist, 10(2): 69-70.

Enago academy. 10 types of scientific misconduct. 2019.

Grijelmo, Alex. A arte de manipular multidões: Técnicas para mentir e controlar as opiniões se aperfeiçoaram na era da pós-verdade. 2017. El País.

Higgins, Kathleen. Post-truth: a guide for the perplexed. 2016. Nature 540 (7631): 9-9.

Lewandowsky, Stephan; Ecker, Ullrich KH; Cook, John. 2017. Beyond misinformation: Understanding and coping with the “post-truth” era. Journal of applied research in memory and cognition, 6(4): 353-369.

Martins, Ananda Regina Pereira; Martins, Lucas Pereira; Figueiredo, Leila. Ten actions for Brazilian scientists to engage in environmental politics. 2020. Mongabay.

Varner, Johanna. 2014. Scientific Outreach: Toward Effective Public Engagement with Biological Science. BioScience, 64(4): 333–340.

Searching for whales in the Mediterranean Sea

Searching for whales in the Mediterranean Sea

by Anaïs Rémili

©Anaïs Remili

It was my first field internship, in the summer of 2016. Unlike my university friends, who were celebrating their graduation, I decided to spend the summer working on whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea.

Searching for whales is difficult. My eyes suffered a lot that summer. The water reflects the light of the sun on the surface. Once you spot a whale or a dolphin, it often directly dives and vanishes forever. If you encounter a sperm whale or a Cuvier’s beaked whale, it could go for a deep dive and only resurface an hour later! There is a lot of patience involved in this type of research. However, I will never regret my long hours at sea that summer. I was lucky to meet some of the most magnificent animals on Earth. 

©Anaïs Remili

The stripped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) can be found in most Oceans. In the Mediterranean Sea, they live in pods and travel along the coast looking for cephalopods to feed on. They can perform acrobatics and are quite agile! 

During my time in Italy, I encountered several pods of stripped dolphins. They were a lot of fun because they can be quite friendly and playful. The juvenile in the picture above was one of the most gorgeous dolphins I saw this summer. 

©Anaïs Remili

The fin whale (Balenoptera physalus) is the second largest mammal on the planet. It can reach twenty-seven meters although its size usually oscillates between eighteen and twenty meters. It was hunted heavily before commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission. This beautiful whale is one of the eight species of marine mammals protected in the Pelagos Sanctuary between Northern Italy and Corsica. It feeds on small fish, squid, and krill. 

We were told that fin whale sightings were rare, and it was the first sighting of the season. It was not hard to spot because of the shape and size of their blow – it was so close that I felt its blow! It was a surreal encounter. 

©Anaïs Remili

Finally, the Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) is definitely the most elusive whale in the Pelagos Sanctuary. They can dive as deep as 3000m and hold their breath for up to two hours! They like to feed on squid. They are particularly sensitive to noise and military sonar because it confuses them and can even be lethal to them as they can get decompression sickness such as gas embolism. 

I had the chance to spot a family of Ziphius, including a calf. That day was one of the hardest days that summer at sea, because we were barely able to get a glimpse of the whales, but this magical encounter with the calf made it all worthwhile. We had to be on the lookout for any sign of their presence, which is difficult to do since their blow is not visible like that of the fin whale.

I will forever miss the beautiful creatures of the Pelagos Sanctuary. They made me want to study the impact of pollution on marine mammals and I would not be where I am today without this internship. Today, I study chemical pollution in killer whales from the North Atlantic for my PhD. I do not travel much to Italy these days. But I know I will go back, one day …

Anaïs Remili is a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Melissa McKinney. She works on killer whale feeding ecology and ecotoxicology. She has always had a passion for marine mammals. She received her M.Sc. In Marine environment and resources from the Marine Environment and Resources consortium, an Erasmus Mundus + Master Program in Europe; and her B.Sc. In Biology of the Organisms and Populations from the University Claude Bernard of Lyon in France.

KISS, KIDS ou KILT à chacun son style en modélisation multi-agents

KISS, KIDS ou KILT à chacun son style en modélisation multi-agents

par Céline Jacob

Dans une vie de chercheur, il est toujours bon d’avoir plusieurs cordes à son arc! En tant que post-doc en sciences humaines et sociales utilisant majoritairement des approches qualitatives, j’avais suivi avec curiosité, depuis plusieurs années, des travaux utilisant la modélisation multi-agents sans arriver à franchir le cap et à me former sur le sujet. Et j’ai enfin pu m’initier à ces approches en participant à l’Ecole d’été internationale et multi-plateforme sur la modélisation et la simulation multi-agents appliquées à la gestion des ressources renouvelables (MISS-ABM) organisée en septembre 2019 par le CIRAD à Montpellier, en France.   

Mais qu’est-ce que la modélisation multi-agents et en quoi cela peut être intéressant quand on travaille, comme moi, sur l’analyse institutionnelle et les jeux d’acteurs dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre des politiques publiques environnementales (par ex. l’application du principe de compensation écologique aux milieux humides et hydriques au Québec !) ? Normalement, je m’appuie sur des entretiens semi-directifs auprès de divers acteurs intervenant dans la gouvernance environnementale (ministères, organismes de bassins versants, ONGs, etc.) pour essayer de décrypter les processus de prises de décision. Cependant je voulais me servir de mes études empiriques sur les perceptions, les décisions et les actions de mes acteurs pour la modélisation de systèmes socio-écologiques complexes et donc passer des raisonnements qualitatifs des personnes à des données quantitatives formelles.  

La modélisation multi-agents permet, entre autres, de représenter de manière explicite les aspects qui caractérisent la complexité du processus de décision collective et d’en préciser les mécanismes. Par exemple, en matière de décision, de nombreuses études s’appuient sur la théorie économique faisant l’hypothèse de la rationalité économique des agents. Pour simplifier, l’agent se comporte en « homo oeconomicus », c’est-à-dire il prend des décisions de manière à maximiser ses gains. Bien sûr, d’autres théories viennent la compléter, notamment, celle de la rationalité limitée, précise que la capacité de décision d’un individu peut être altérée par le manque d’information, des biais cognitifs ou le manque de temps. 

On peut aussi faire appel à d’autres cadres théoriques en sciences sociales pour expliquer la prise de décision. Si l’on revient à mon exemple de compensation écologique et aux choix des sites pour la restauration des milieux humides, je pourrais m’appuyer sur la théorie de la diffusion de l’information au sein d’un réseau d’acteurs et donc examiner l’importance de l’influence des caractéristiques de la compensation proposée (par ex. les gains écologiques attendus), des agents (par ex. leur place dans le réseau social) et celles des sites dégradés (par ex. l’état initial des services écosystémiques sur le site détérioré) sur l’adoption de nouvelles pratiques de restauration écologique.

Donc voilà, j’étais à la recherche d’approches qui me permettraient d’élaborer un cadre d’analyse qui correspondrait plus aux comportements que j’observe dans la réalité lors de mes entretiens, ce qui se rapporte dans le schéma ci-dessous, issu de la formation MISS-ABMS, aux modèles KIDS « Keep it Descriptive Stupid ». Ces derniers permettent d’étudier l’émergence de comportements à partir d’interactions complexes observées dans des études de cas. Mais vous pouvez aussi concevoir des « Serious Game » et de la modélisation participative dans le cadre des KILT « Keep It a Learning Tool » pour interagir avec des acteurs ou faire appel au KISS « Keep It Simple, Stupid » pour des modèles plus conceptuels.

J’ai ainsi participé à cette formation de deux semaines s’adressant à tous, quel que soit son niveau (par exemple, moi je n’avais utilisé aucune des 3 plateformes proposées : GAMA :, Netlogo : et Cormas : Cette école d’été alterne cours et travail sur notre propre modèle que nous avons dû présenter en fin de session. Elle est encadrée par une équipe de développeur expérimenté fort sympathique et a rassemblé des étudiants à la maîtrise, au doctorat, des post-doctorants et des chercheurs venant de tous horizons géographiques et thématiques. Une super occasion de se former à de nouvelles approches dans un cadre stimulant et si cela vous tente de continuer l’aventure, elle vous ouvre aussi les portes d’un beau réseau de chercheurs dans le domaine. La formation a lieu chaque année, donc n’hésitez pas à jeter un coup d’œil à leur site ! 


Le Page, 2019, adapté de Schlüter et al., 2019 (Formation MISS-ABMS)


Céline Jacob réalise actuellement son stage postdoctoral à l’UQO dans le laboratoire d’économie écologique de Jérôme Dupras sur la mise en place du nouveau règlement sur la compensation des milieux humides et hydriques au Québec et sur la résilience des populations côtières aux changements climatiques dans l’estuaire et le golfe du Saint Laurent. Céline s’intéresse aux modes de gouvernance environnementale et aux instruments de gestion de la biodiversité. Elle a obtenu son doctorat en géographie à l’université Paul-Valéry Montpellier en 2017 portant sur l’application de la compensation écologique aux écosystèmes marins en partenariat avec le bureau d’études en environnement CREOCEAN.                                                          

Twitter: @ClineJacob2

Conférence dans la plus grande petite ville du monde

Conférence dans la plus grande petite ville du monde

par Hélène Le Borgne et Anna Mazaleyrat


Étudiante au doctorat et post-doctorante en écologie à l’UQO, nous avons participé à la conférence The Wildlife Society grâce à un prix d’excellence du CSBQ. Cette conférence s’est tenue fin septembre 2019 à Reno, au Reno Sparks convention center (États-Unis). Reno est située dans le désert du Nevada et est connue comme « la plus grande petite ville du monde » ainsi que pour ses nombreux casinos. 


Pour la première fois, la conférence a été réalisée conjointement avec l’American Fisheries Society. Cette conférence internationale a rassemblé plus de 4000 chercheurs, professionnels et étudiants de la faune sauvage et aquatique. Habituées à participer à des colloques d’envergures plus modestes tels que celui du CSBQ ou de la SQEBC (Société Québécoise pour
l’Étude Biologique du Comportement), nous avons été impressionnées par la quantité de sessions en parallèle (plus de 40 salles) et le nombre d’affiches (près de 400). Ce congrès de taille exceptionnelle nous aura permis entre autres de rencontrer des professionnels de la faune sauvage et de découvrir de nouvelles technologies pouvant nous aider dans nos projets de recherche respectifs. 

Hélène Le Borgne 

Cette conférence internationale m’a donné l’opportunité de réaliser une présentation orale en anglais sur l’effet des plantations sur la biodiversité des oiseaux et des mammifères en forêt tempérée du Québec. En parallèle à ces recherches, je travaille sur un projet visant à mieux comprendre le comportement de sélection d’habitat du cerf de Virginie. Lors de la session de posters, j’ai eu l’occasion de discuter avec un étudiant dont les questions de recherche et la méthodologie utilisée étaient similaires aux nôtres. Cet échange m’a permis de comprendre les problèmes auxquels leur équipe avait dû faire face et les raisons qui les avaient menés à développer leur propre design expérimental. La connaissance de ces problèmes et de leur méthode d’expérimentation m’auront permis de réétudier la conception de nos expérimentations et de réfléchir aux éventuelles difficultés que nous pourrions rencontrer sur le terrain.

Anna Mazaleyrat

Lors de ce congrès, j’ai présenté mes résultats de recherche portant sur l’influence des coupes forestières sur le succès d’envahissement d’une espèce de limace et le déclin des espèces indigènes. Cette expérience, en plus de représenter un défi personnel (présentation en anglais), m’a permis d’échanger avec des experts internationaux dans le domaine des invasions biologiques. J’ai ainsi appris que le cygne tuberculé (Cygnus olor) cause présentement d’importants dommages à la faune indigène aux États-Unis (tout comme au Canada). On dit souvent que beaucoup de choses sont démesurées aux États-Unis et leur manière de gérer certaines espèces envahissantes m’a également paru l’être. Ainsi, dans certains états, le sanglier (Sus scrofa ; dont on craint l’établissement au Québec) est abattu à l’arme automatique depuis un hélicoptère.

En dehors de la conférence, ce voyage nous a permis de prendre quelques jours pour aller nous balader et profiter de la nature environnante. Dès que nous sommes descendues de l’avion, cette ville nous a fait penser à un mini Las Vegas avec la même démesure caractéristique de cette dernière. Malgré cela, cette ville est entourée de parcs nationaux et de lacs qui sont à couper le souffle. En toute logique, notre premier arrêt fut le lac Tahoe situé à quelques dizaines de kilomètres de Reno, à la limite du Nevada et de la Californie. Ce lac est l’un des plus profonds des États-Unis et le plus grand lac de montagne d’Amérique du Nord. Nous avons été très surprises de la clarté de cette eau puisque nous pouvions voir à plusieurs mètres de profondeur. Malheureusement, depuis quelques années les scientifiques observent une dégradation de la limpidité de ses eaux.


Nous sommes également aller faire une randonnée dans le parc national du Yosemite, Californie. 


Non loin du parc national du Yosemite, nous avons fait une petite escale sur les bords du lac Mono. Nous nous sommes retrouvées dans un écosystème bien particulier puisqu’il s’agit d’un lac trois fois plus salé que l’océan. Bien qu’il n’y ait aucune espèce de poisson dans ce lac, ce n’est pas un milieu pauvre en biodiversité. En effet, cette étendue d’eau salée sert d’habitat, de lieu de reproduction ou de halte pour de nombreuses espèces d’oiseaux notamment grâce à la présence d’une petite mouche (Ephydra hians) et d’une espèce de crevette endémique, l’artémie (Artemia monica).  



Hélène Le Borgne est actuellement post-doctorante dans le laboratoire d’Angélique Dupuch à l’Institut des Sciences de la Forêt Tempérée à l’UQO. Depuis quelques années, ses recherches se concentrent principalement sur la compréhension des facteurs déterminants la répartition des populations animales, ainsi que l’assemblage des espèces dans les paysages naturels et anthropisés.


Anna Mazaleyrat est actuellement étudiante au doctorat dans le laboratoire d’Angélique Dupuch à l’Institut des Sciences de la Forêt Tempérée à l’UQO et elle s’intéresse présentement aux facteurs qui favorisent le succès d’invasion des espèces animales introduites.

Stumbling into ecosystem services: A short story about how I came to care about ecosystem services, and why I think you should too

Stumbling into ecosystem services: A short story about how I came to care about ecosystem services, and why I think you should too

by Dalal Hanna

In October of 2019, I received an Excellence award from the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Sciences to attend the Ecosystem Service Partnership World Conference, in Hannover, Germany. This gathering brings together experts from around the world working in ecosystem service research to discuss the latest advancements in this field, and workshop important future research directions. Returning home from this journey, filled with new ideas and thoughts related to the concept of ecosystem services, it occurred to me that the concept may not be quite as intuitive or popular as scientists working in this field imagine it to be. So… I decided to write this short blog post to share my interpretation of what exactly is meant by the term ecosystem services, and why I think it’s important. 

Nature provides us humans with many benefits, like clean water to drink, areas to recreate, and a stable climate.  These diverse benefits are what some scientists like to call ecosystem services. Another way to think of this concept is as the different contributions nature makes to people. And these contributions are diverse. They span from very tangible things all humans think about and hope to benefit from on a daily basis, like clean drinking water, to things that are invisible      but essential, such as the regulation of nutrients found in soil. And the list goes on… Insects and other living beings pollinate plants, which in turn provide us humans with the food we need to survive. Rivers flow, creating incredible rapids that attract thousands of people to descend them, or providing space to generate electricity. Forests grow, filtering the air we breathe, and so on… As humans, we join this intricate web of ecosystems and the organisms living in them, benefiting greatly from having access to our home here on Earth.  

Nature also provides numerous benefits to humans that are a little more abstract, like a sense of place. I strongly feel this benefit when I’m in the Boreal Forest, the ecosystem where I spent my childhood summers. While standing in a forest with a mix of spruce trees and balsam firs, on a rocky outcrop at the edge of a river, I somehow feel like I belong. This sense of belonging, of place, is in large part what led me to become an environmental scientist. I felt driven to better understand the incredible ecosystems supported by planet Earth, and to work to care for them.  Science felt like the right avenue to learn about one of the ways to do that. And so, I did a Bachelor’s degree in which I learnt what felt like a billion plant and animal parts. I forgot most of them, but I did feel as though my knowledge of how ecosystems function expanded. Then, I did my first research project, and I realized I was in the right place. I loved the proximity research gave me to the non-human world, the intimacy I developed with the wetland loving bird I was studying, and my ability to answer questions about how us humans were affecting them. I later did a Masters, investigating what caused some fish to accumulate more contaminants than others.

And then, one day, I came across the term “ecosystem services”. There was something about it that didn’t sit quite right. It made me wonder if the people that used it thought of “nature” as a thing that is separate to humans, and only exists to provide us humans with “services”. That bothered me, as I don’t view myself as separate from nature, but as part of it. The term felt a bit utilitarian. But I kept looking, and when I looked further, I saw a concept that pushes people to think of all the different and diverse ways we humans interact with the ecosystems in which we live. I saw a concept that can help conceptualize the tangible and intangible ways we humans are related to ecosystems and rely on them. It’s a concept that says that ecosystems really matter. They matter for many reasons, including the fact that they provide us with all kinds of benefits we simply can’t survive without. 

We need words to be able to talk about this, or we will never be able to see these diverse benefits provided by nature and build a system that acknowledges their importance and accounts for how our actions affect them. The term “ecosystem services” puts words onto an idea that has existed for millennia. They may not be the perfect words, but they have proven to be effective in getting the conversation about the importance of ecosystems into different spaces, and I think that is good.  I’m happy this concept pushed me to ask myself about all the really different ways people interact with the ecosystems in which I live and do research, how the different parts of that system interact among each other, how that can change through time and space, as well as depending on which perspectives are taken into consideration. I sincerely believe that if we can all start thinking a little bit more about the ecosystems in which we live and all the different ways, both positive and negative, that we interact with them, we can better work toward sustaining harmonious ecosystems (and services!) for all, humans and others alike.  

I want to finish this short pondering about ecosystem services by sharing a quote from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass:

“We get them [ecosystem services] for free, donated continually by [ecosystems]… They [ecosystems] do their share for us. The question is: How well do we do by them?”

Dalal Hanna is a PhD Candidate at McGill University working under the supervision of Elena Bennett. She works to generate the information and momentum required for society to shift toward more sustainable and equitable living. Her PhD research is focused on how rivers and lakes can best be protected to ensure their continued contributions to people’s well-being. She is also the co-founder and director of Riparia, a Canadian Charity that brings young women on free, multi-day, freshwater science excursions.

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