Bridging Arctic biodiversity science, DNA technology, and local knowledge.
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.
ARCBIO aims to reinforce this knowledge by improving capacity to monitor changes in biological communities in the Canadian Arctic and by offering a new context for integrating scientific data with local expert input.
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.
ARCBIO will encourage participation from professional and citizen scientists and will facilitate easier access to research results by any interested members of local, particularly Indigenous communities. These data will help to inform public policy and to address the impacts of ecological and climatic change, such as the spread of invasive species, wildlife diseases, or changes in the availability of country foods and other natural resources. ARCBIO will contribute to a new global research program, BIOSCAN, which is headed by the iBOL Consortium.
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Polar Knowledge Canada is a new federal organization responsible
for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic, as well as strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology. POLAR 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.
The University of Guelph is a research-intensive institute in Ontario,
Canada with multiple campuses spanning urban hubs and rural communities. The Guelph faculty scholars and researchers provide groundbreaking opportunities in laboratories, art studios, libraries and the field. University of Guelph provides ARCBIO its advisory on wildlife health and ethical standards for community-based research.
The Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, a global leader in the field of DNA barcoding, aims to build tools for specimen identification and species discovery. Their innovative approach is distinctive in its taxonomic scope and its commitment to genomic minimalism. As opposed to sequencing entire genomes, CBG uses targeted gene regions to advance our knowledge of diversity, distribution, and interactions of multicellular life.
Oceans North is a non-profit organization based in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Their goal is to promote policies and programs to address unprecedented environmental changes, and ensure northern waters are protected within the realm of Inuit knowledge, rights, and consultation. Oceans North supports partnerships with Indigenous organizations and communities to better address the unique challenges facing Northern life.
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 sequence reads. Termed DNA barcoding, this approach has now gained general acceptance.
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
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).
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