Tracking the state of biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic
By fostering collaborations and seeking guidance from the local community, ARCBIO will produce diverse resources for all Canadians.
Build a DNA barcode reference library of Arctic organisms
Establish a sampling framework to monitor the health of locally harvested species
Develop a range of digital media content documenting biodiversity on Inuit lands and in their communities
Education & Community
Provide educational tools for communities, schools and educators in the North, across Canada, and around the world
Bringing DNA technology to biodiversity science
Conventional biodiversity surveys rely on human expertise to identify organisms visually, so only a limited number of well-known plants and animals can be effectively recognized.
What is a DNA barcode?
In 2003, Paul Hebert and colleagues proposed the use of sequence diversity in short, standardized gene regions – the ‘DNA barcode’ – for specimen identification and species discovery. Their research demonstrated that most species can be differentiated with limited sequence information. As a result, highly effective identification systems can be based on a single or, at most, a few
How does DNA barcoding work?
It is a very simple process:
Step 1: Isolate DNA from the sample
Step 2: Amplify the target DNA barcode region using PCR
Step 3: Sequence the PCR products
Step 4: Compare the resulting sequences against reference databases to find the matching species
Why is DNA technology important in the Arctic?
Taking advantage of recent progress in DNA technology, we can now automate and scale up the process of species identification.
This makes it possible to expand monitoring to include organisms that are small and hard to identify (e.g. insects or mosses). It also allows the detection of important or rare organisms by analyzing traces of their DNA in the environment (e.g. in water) and inside other animals (e.g. blood inside mosquitoes).
Over decades, the Inuit have observed environmental changes in the Arctic, such as differences in sea ice thaw and migratory patterns of species. Integrated with data collected by researchers, these observations form an important source of knowledge about the state of the Arctic.
We wish to ensure that the scope of our project is relevant to issues facing Kitikmeot communities and that the proposed research activities do not negatively affect land use by locals.
Recent News & Field Blog
Discovering what lives in Canada's Arctic requires a team of people to search for and collect an array of creatures, from a vast quantity of insects and other invertebrates to specific samples of mosses and lichens. We are here for a second season of field work to...read more
Hannah James has more than 15 years of experience in journalism and communications. She has produced national TV documentaries covering a range of Indigenous rights issues, and has written about Truth and Reconciliation. Dr. Michelle D'Souza has seven years of...read more
We really got to appreciate elder George's words when we took the opportunity to go out onto the land with a local friend, Ipeelie Ootoova, on Saturday. He took us north-east of CHARS, over the ice for a little over 20 km, in a skidoo drawn Qamutiik (Inuit sled) lined...read more
The Arctic BIOSCAN project is part of a larger global effort to set up real-time monitoring platforms for multi-cellular living organisms.
I am the project manager for ARCBIO, coordinating its research logistics. Trained as a ‘classical’ zoologist, I became involved in DNA barcoding in 2004, with particular interest in biodiversity of small mammals, international development and policy.
I am a cultural anthropologist with over 20 years of experience working with First Nations communities documenting local history and Indigenous knowledge. As the University of Guelph’s Research Ethics Board member, I will advise the project leads on ethical standards and best practices for community-based research.
I am part of the ARCBIO media team with over 15 years of experience in media and communications. I have worked as a journalist covering Indigenous issues, including Truth and Reconciliation.
I am part of the ARCBIO media team focused on science research communications. I have 7 years of experience working with local communities on biodiversity projects in Central America as a science researcher and creative communicator.
Prof. Claire Jardine
Dr. Jardine has over 15 years of practise in wildlife health and manages the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative for Ontario & Nunavut. She will be advising ARCBIO on matters of wildlife health.
Dr. Ian Hogg
Dr. Hogg is an expert in Polar diversity and the Team Lead for Ecosystem and Cryosphere Research at Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS). He is the lead research contact for ARCBIO at CHARS.
Dr. Jennie Knopp
Dr. Knopp has over 12 years of experience working at the interface of Indigenous Knowledge and scientific knowledge, community-based research and monitoring, and community engagement in the Canadian Arctic including in the Kitikmeot Region.
Dr. Paul Hebert
ARCBIO is led by Prof. Paul Hebert at the University of Guelph, a world-renowned expert in DNA-based approaches and Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics – the world’s largest DNA barcoding facility.
Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR)
Polar Knowledge Canada is a new federal organization responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic and strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. POLAR will anchor a strong research presence in the Canadian Arctic which serves Canada and the world, while advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, and the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians. Polar Knowledge Canada includes a pan-northern science and technology program monitoring Canada’s North, and the world-class Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
University of Guelph
The University of Guelph is a research-intensive institute in Ontario, Canada with multiple campuses spanning urban hubs and rural communities. Known for
Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
As the global leader in the field of DNA barcoding, the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBD) aims to build tools for specimen identification and species discovery. Its unique research capacity reflects the coupling of one of Canada’s largest genomics platforms with a workforce that includes world-class expertise in biodiversity science, DNA sequencing, and informatics. The innovative approach taken by the CBD is distinctive in
Oceans North is a non-profit organization based in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Their intention is to promote policies and programs addressing unprecedented environmental