Having spent most of my career at the University of Victoria as the only entomologist in the Biology Department, my research interests have, by necessity, been broad and diverse. Thus, I have published in many different journals on a variety of different entomological topics. However, my main interest has always been in Canadian arctic entomology, and how insects survive long cold winters and relatively short growing seasons --- in a nutshell, the ecophysiology of overwintering survival in extreme environmental conditions.
Since arctic insects are vagile, have relatively short life cycles and rapid reproductive potential, they are ideal subjects for studying the effects of global warming in the arctic. According to Global Climate Change models, warming will occur first in polar regions and to the greatest degree.
This brief profile encapsulates
areas in which I and my graduate students have worked in the arctic, and some
of the species and/or habitats on which we have published our results.
The low western arctic, NWT (69 degrees North), in the region of Inuvik (below the treeline), Tuktoyaktuk (above the treeline), the Tuk Peninsula (pingo country), the Mackenzie Delta, Banks Island (with Rose O’Doherty) and Herschel Island (Yukon Territory).
Here we studied the cold hardiness of pythid beetles (Fam. Pythidae), a variety of willow leaf and ament gall-formers, Fam. Tenthredinidae (with Lee Humble), aphids (with Tim Boulton), and caddisflies, order Trichoptera (with Neville Winchester).
Even though the low western
arctic can get very warm in summer (up to 30 degrees Celsius in Inuvik!),
cold wind, rain and even snow can come at any time. This is an example ---
mid-summer at Canoe Lake on the eastern slopes of the Richardson Mountains
which straddle NWT and the Yukon.
The high eastern arctic at Alexandra Fiord, an arctic oasis half way up the eastern side of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, facing Greenland (almost 80 degrees North). This is the site of ITEX Canada where Dr. Greg Henry and his team of plant ecologists are studying the effects of passive warming in these Open Top Chambers (OTCs). We have been able to take advantage of this experimental set-up to study similar warming effects on insects, both directly on the insects themselves as well as indirectly through their relationships with the host plants within the chambers.
Basic studies on the biology of the most cold-hardy of all known insects, the arctic woolly bear caterpillar (Gyanaephora groenlandica), by Olga Kukal and Dean Morewood have given important insights into how insects survive environments that are among the most extreme in the Canadian arctic.
Woolly Bear and cocoon
Other studies on aquatic beetles (Hydroporus spp.) (by Adrian DeBruyn) and insect diversity (Jeff Lemieux and Dean Morewood) have also been carried out here. At present, manuscripts on (1) insect diversity and (2) soil arthropod diversity and abundance within and without the OTCs are in preparation (Morewood, Ring and Henry).