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Important Dates


Symposium Title: Ecological dimensions of hybridization

Organizer(s): Ken Thompson, Silu Wang

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Description: Studying the genetic basis of parallel evolution is key to understanding the extent to which adaption is repeatable or constrained. A phenotype that can be produced via many alternative biological pathways is less constrained than a phenotype that can only be produced via one pathway. Similarly, a phenotype that can be produced via mutations at many alternative loci is less constrained than a phenotype that can only be produced by a mutation at one locus. Alternative biological pathways may have different pleiotropic effects, and different mutations might have different expressivity, penetrance, or dominance relationships. As a result, natural selection may impose constraints based on which of the functionally equivalent genetic changes that produce the same phenotype result in the highest fitness. In small and isolated populations, genetic drift may also limit the diversity of alternative genetic pathways available for the evolution of an adaptive phenotype. If genetic drift is strong, the genetic basis of a polymorphism may be contingent on the availability of mutation at one of several functionally equivalent genetic loci. We might expect less genetic parallelism if any combination of the following is true: the phenotype has a highly redundant genetic basis, the fitness differences between alternative biological pathways are small, or genetic drift affects the availability of adaptive alleles in replicate populations. This symposium will explore whether we have reached a consensus on when and how often to expect genetic parallelism. It will include specific cases where parallelism has been examined at the genetic level, and it will include broader surveys of genetic parallelism across multiple species from different kingdoms.


Symposium Title: The spatial-social interface: from plants to predators

Organizers: Quinn Webber, Eric Vander Wal

Description: Animal social behaviour and space use are inherently linked through processes and interactions that inform how individuals navigate their environment. The integration of social and spatial processes is termed the spatial-social interface, which we define as the proximate and ultimate interactions between social and spatial phenotypes and environments, such that the interface comprises four interconnected components: spatial phenotypes (e.g. habitat selection), social phenotypes (e.g. aggression), spatial environments (e.g. habitat openness), and social environments (e.g. group size).

The proposed CSEE session is the latest in a series of conversation our research groups have been facilitating on the topic of integrating spatial ecology and sociobiology. In recent years we have organized virtual sessions at the Ecological Society of America (2021) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (2020), keystone publication in Biological Reviews (Webber et al. 2023) and a recently accepted Theme Issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Given the international nature of our conversation, we are excited to organize a session at CSEE. Our goals are threefold: 1) spotlight work at the spatial-social interface already being done in Canada and the Western US; 2) respectfully acknowledge and reflect on other ways of knowing the spatial-social interface; 3) develop conceptual integration across empirical systems where contributors present hypotheses specific to the spatial-social interface.


Symposium Title: The evolution of gene expression and regulation

Organizers: Alberto Civetta, Sara Good

Description: A long-standing challenge in evolutionary genetics is bridging connections between genotypes and phenotypes. Advances in molecular, particularly sequencing, technologies have greatly improved our ability to test such associations. Moreover, these technical advances have helped us improve our understanding of the mode of evolution of genes and genomes. However, evolutionary studies have mainly focused on assays that explore associations involving nucleotide variants or that infer the mode of evolution from sequence data. We have known for some time that differences in the expression of genes and gene networks can shape traits and therefore impact fitness components. Since we now have the means to measure expression genome-wide, we are entering a whole new era in which it will be possible to measure the impact of multi-locus expression changes on fitness. With the vast majority of eukaryotic genomes being composed of non-protein coding DNA, our understanding of the regulation of gene expression, molecular signaling and interactions therein are posed to reshape our understanding of how genomes have evolved. Equally important, the field of epigenomics gives us a window into the interplay between genes and the environment and epigenetic changes that modify regulation and genome expression are appearing more as the norm than the exception. This symposium will bring together scientist working on issues relating to the broad topic of gene regulation across invertebrates, vertebrates and plants. Among other topics, presenters will address the role of selection and other mechanisms driving differences in gene expression, how genome-wide modifications in expression can trigger evolutionary changes, and how the plasticity of such changes can influence evolutionary trajectories.


Symposium Title: Welcome to the future: how technology can help us characterize habitat and ecological relationships

Organizers:  Martin Leclerc, Fanie Pelletier

Description: Climate change and other human driven-environmental changes are affecting all ecosystems around the globe. Recent changes in climate have already affected natural ecosystems and wild organisms. While the effect of environment on wild species has of interest for evolutionary biologist for and ecologists for centuries, recent developments in technology have allowed us to characterize environment at much finer spatial and temporal scales. Data accessibility, new promising instruments and the launch of new satellites will provide even further opportunities for researchers trying to assess relationships between wildlife and their environment. This symposium aims to present recent methodological developments use to better characterize environments in several ecosystems (see Excel file) and provide examples of their applications in ecological research. Our symposium will bring together six scientists that work on these questions. First, Dr. M Leclerc will introduce the symposium and present how new spaceborne LiDAR (GEDI) and a thermal imagery instrument (Ecostress) on the International Space Station help predict the response of wildlife to environmental change in the American West.  Ms. V. Crozier will then show how vegetation indices, extracted from the MODIS on the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites can be used to track phenological shift and evaluate their consequence on reproductive strategy of large herbivore. Then, Ms. H. Leigh Crofts will present data from the CABO to illustrate how spectranomics can improve our understanding changes in plant biodiversity across Canada. We are hoping to have researchers working in tropical, marine and arctic environments.


Symposium Title: The State of Plant Conservation in Canada

Organizers: Jenny McCune, Jana Vamosi, Jeannette Whitton

Description: Vascular plants make up the largest group of species currently listed as “at-risk” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Their recovery is important to conserve Canada’s biodiversity. However, for many of these species basic information needed to design recovery actions is lacking. For example, we often do not have precise population estimates, knowledge of genetic diversity, or detailed habitat requirements for these species.

Few academic researchers are pursuing research on endangered plant conservation in Canada, which likely contributes to knowledge gaps. In addition, Canada lacks a national strategy to promote plant conservation nationally, and to work towards the goals outlined in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, developed at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in 2010. This is in contrast to the United States, where the Plant Conservation Alliance‚ a consortium of ten federal government agencies and over 300 non-federal cooperators‚ was formed in 1995.

This symposium will bring together botanical practitioners from governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to discuss the current state of plant conservation across the country, highlight initiatives that are working to enhance conservation and recovery of plant species, and identify the main gaps in plant conservation research in Canada. As far as we know, such an account-taking of plant conservation in this country has not been done before.


Title: The science and art of cytogenetics: celebrating Canadian contributions to the field of plant cytotaxonomy

Organizers: Kathleen Pryer and Amanda Grusz

Description: Plant chromosome number is highly variable, ranging from as few as 4 per somatic cell (Xanthisma gracile, Asteraceae) to as many as 1440 (Ophioglossum reticulatum, Ophioglossaceae). Chromosome data relevant to plant systematics and evolution range from simply determining the number of chromosomes present to visualizing the exquisite details of modern molecular cytogenetics. Changes in chromosome number and the genomic rearrangements that usually accompany this transition have profound effects on plant phenotypes. These can result in rapid reproductive isolation and aid in the establishment of lineages with novel genomes and morphological traits.


This year’s CBA meeting marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Gerald A. (Gerry) Mulligan, who had a prolific career of 60+ years in the Canada Department of Agriculture in Ottawa as a scientist and research director. Gerry determined and published a wealth of chromosome numbers for species from numerous plant families across Canada and the United States. The aim of this symposium is to acknowledge and highlight his fundamental contributions, as well as the works of several other Canadian plant cytogeneticists, and to demonstrate how they continue to inform our understanding of plant taxonomy and evolutionary biology.


Symposium Title: Integrating equity into urban ecology and evolution: Diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives for the benefit of all

Organizers: Riikka Kinnunen, Isabella Richmond

Description: Human social and political decision-making creates varied environments across cities, where the uneven distribution of wealth and resources reflect the injustice and inequity intertwined in our society. This heterogeneity influences urban biodiversity patterns in complex ways also affecting the well-being of humans. For example, higher-income neighbourhoods often have more diverse plant communities and higher tree cover than lower-income neighbourhoods. Temperature and air pollution in cities also vary with socioeconomics, with low-income, minority residents more exposed to higher levels of air temperature and pollution. Human decisions and biases thus shape the urban environment in ways that influence the quality of habitat available for people, plants, and animals. As the design of our Canadian cities reflects the influences of settler-colonialism violence that started them, the uneven environmental variation across neighbourhoods raises concerns about inequity within our cities. If we as urban ecologists and evolutionary biologists want to contribute to reversing these social injustices, we must integrate equity into our research.

This symposium will highlight equity-driven urban ecology and evolution research, where socioeconomic and sociopolitical variables contribute to understanding variation in biodiversity and ecosystem services across and within cities. We want the symposium to encourage networking and sharing of ideas across interdisciplinary fields. Our aim is to particularly highlight the work of early-career researchers. This topic is timely and important, identified as one of the top future research questions in urban evolutionary ecology in a recent global horizon scan, and will be of interest to both CBA and CSEE members.


Symposium Title: The science of Decision Support Systems in conservation ecology

Organizer: James Paterson

Description: Decision Support Systems provide a framework for assisting individuals or organizations make transparent, consistent, and data-driven choices about action. In conservation ecology, decision support systems can assist in choices to prioritize conserving natural resources. In the last 25 years, increases in the volume of available data and in computing resources have resulted in an explosion of DSS tools for estimating the costs and benefits of conservation. In this symposium, we bring together leaders in Canadian conservation ecology to share advances and applications in the science of these tools.


Symposium Title: Microbial ecology & evolution

Organizers: Leanne Grieves, Aleeza Gerstein

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Description: Although microbes have long been acknowledged as an integral part of all communities, they have been vastly underrepresented at ecology and evolution meetings. Given the inherent limitations in studies that require counting and observing, they have historically been predominantly represented as model systems, where they offer an exceptional framework to test ecological and evolutionary theories. The recent years have, however, seen a profusion of ecological and evolutionary microbial studies that look at microorganisms for their own sake. This has been driven largely by technological advances that have made genomics tools increasingly accessible and affordable. Given this, the interdisciplinary nature of the field, and the predominance of work on microorganisms in both fundamental and applied research, we believe a symposium on microbial ecology and evolution will create exciting opportunities for diverse researchers to connect and share their work. We would like to welcome research from multiple taxa, disciplines, and research questions - united under the broad theme of microbial ecology and evolution. We envision this symposium being open to any research involving microorganisms, provided there is an ecological and/or evolutionary component to the work. Researchers who work on ecological and evolutionary questions in microorganisms are often “siloed”, being somewhat isolated in departments (e.g., Biology, Microbiology & Immunology/Molecular Biology, Plant Science/Agriculture) where crosstalk among (sub)disciplines is not always promoted or accessible. Our goal is for this symposium to provide an opportunity for diverse researchers to connect over the common theme, creating opportunities for networking and collaboration that may otherwise be limited.


Symposium Title: The future of herbarium collections and taxonomy in ecology and evolutionary studies

Organizer: Anne Bruneau

Description: Natural History Collections, here specifically herbaria, are a rich source of long-term data about the morphology, physiology, ecology and geographical distribution of plant species over time. Increasingly data from collections, and information garnered from the specimens themselves, are being used by researchers addressing ecological and evolutionary questions. This symposium will highlight three key examples of innovative use of herbarium collections in ecological and evolutionary studies. We will also discuss the important role that herbaria and natural history collections can play in repatriation of specimens and their associated data. In addition, we will examine the consequences of the wide access to observation data, some of the challenges inherent to these data, and how best to integrate observation and specimen data to improve our knowledge of biodiversity. We end the symposium with a broad perspective on the future and role of herbaria and other natural history collections as we embrace the post COP15 objectives of better protecting biodiversity. Thirteen years after the publication of the 2010 Council of Canadian Academies report on the state of taxonomy in Canada, this symposium will provide an update and discussion of the progress achieved and challenges that lie ahead for university collections and taxonomic research.


Symposium Title: Plant Development and Environmental Interactions

Organizers: Elizabeth Schultz, Shelley Hepworth

Description: Plant Development is extraordinarily plastic, and its ability to respond to the environment allows plants to acclimate or adapt to changing conditions.  This symposium will bring together 3 different perspectives on plant developmental responses to the environment.  Linda Gorim will talk about how incorporating the response of root systems into breeding and selection programs may provide crops with improved abiotic stress resilience; Joceyln Hall will consider the evolution of nectary development and how it affects pollination success; Marco Todesco will discuss the genetic mechanism underlying adaptive diversity in sunflower. 

Description: Hybrids between diverging lineages, when they form, find themselves amidst a tangled bank of close relatives, members of other species, and abiotic stresses. In spite of this critical ecological context, evolutionary biologists have tended to focus on how non-ecological processes mediate the outcome of hybridization. As a result, little is known about how complex natural habitats shape the performance of hybrids. In this symposium, speakers will discuss their contributions toward understanding of how ecological factors mediate the outcome of hybridization.

Speakers will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives using diverse systems. Most speakers will discuss ecological mechanisms of selection against hybrids. Dan Bock will discuss how ecology mediates selection against hybrids during biological invasion. Dolph Schluter, Scott Taylor, and Jenn Coughlan will primarily discuss hybrid incompatibilities that are undetectable in the lab, using fish, birds, and plants, respectively. Juliette de Meaux and Aly van Natto will both use plant systems to discuss how hybridization influences patterns of genetic variation in hybridizing populations, and Catherine Cullingham and Liz Mandeville will use trees and fish to discuss how ecological factors mediate the extent of adaptive introgression. Cathy Rushworth, Else Mikkelsen, and Loren Rieseberg will discuss how ecology mediates the evolution of stable hybrid lineages.

In sum, this symposium will bridge systems and research questions to advance our understanding about hybridization as an avenue towards understanding dynamic species boundaries and how hybridization can create new ecological and evolutionary potential.

Symposium Title: Genetic Parallelism and Constraints on Evolution

Organizer: Jonathan Mee

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Appel de propositions de symposiums et d’ateliers

15 novembre au 15 janvier

Inscription anticipée

16 février au 10 avril


11 au 14 juin 2023

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Call for Proposals for Symposia and Workshops

November 15 - January 15

Early Registration

February 16 - April 10


June 11-14 2023

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Important Dates

Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution AND Canadian Botanical Association

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