Saving species requires adaptability
Posted onNovember 14, 2023by|, , , , ,
We live in a changing world. Conservation requires teams to be willing to try new things, to be constantly learning and able to adapt in the face of challenges. One of the most important things we can do as conservation biologists working with endangered species is to learn from each experience, adapt and not give up. This is when success happens.
The Ojibway Prairie Reptile Recovery Project in Windsor, ON is the perfect example of adaptability leading to innovation of new techniques. The project’s initial pilot attempts to overwinter snakes began with the common eastern gartersnake in 2019.
Each year since, the team has expanded the scope of the project, based on incremental learning of what worked, and what didn’t work quite as well and could be improved. This past season the team successfully overwintered two endangered species including: Butler’s gartersnakes for the very first time and massasauga rattlesnakes for the second year in a row. They also carried out experimental releases of Butler’s gartersnakes in the region, a world first and only possible because of knowledge gained from previous years.
Environmental DNA research to improve blue racer population monitoring in Ontario, and changes to management of the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly conservation breeding program in BC are excellent examples where new knowledge and innovation have resulted from emerging challenges. The ultimate goal of saving these species from extinction and the overall trajectory and steps needed for recovery remain the same but the short term needs rely on our being able to react to new information and external challenges as they inevitably arise.
We had by far our best bumble bee breeding season on record this year. The conservation lab is now overflowing with bees! Most encouragingly, yellow-banded bumble bees (a species at-risk in Canada) produced 9 colonies and 57 queens (compared to only 1 colony and 3 queens in 2022). Our team has determined how to breed this species in captivity, a major milestone for endangered bumble bee conservation. This is another example of iterative success with each successive year being built on knowledge gained from previous seasons.
Twenty nests from our released western painted turtles were found at the release sites in BC in 2023! This is a significant jump from the 5 wild nests in 2021 and 7 nests in 2022, and confirmation that the release turtles are reaching breeding age and contributing to wild recovery. While we will continue to monitor the impact of the turtle release program in the Fraser Valley, we are planning an ambitious shift in 2024 to ramp up releases to the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island to restore those populations next.
Thank you to all of you, partners, supporters, and donors for joining us in this mission to save Canada’s endangered species from extinction. Wildlife Preservation Canada will continue to do whatever it takes to protect Canada’s biodiversity. We cannot do it without your support.
We need your help