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Boreal @ Memorial

Shining the "Halo "on Memorial University


Join students and faculty of Memorial University in exploring the HALO of the globe: the Boreal Biome. The list on the right hand side of the page will link you to the websites of Biology faculty who do research in the Boreal forest.

Newfoundland and Labrador is Boreal. What does that mean? It belongs to a huge northern expanse of forest and wetlands. It is what makes our province such an incredible natural place. Our province has large tracks of evergreen (conifer) forests and wetlands that form the lungs of the north, producing oxygen and storing carbon – our "bank account' against climate change. We are fortunate to live with those magnificent animals that are icons of the Boreal: caribou, moose, wolves (in Labrador) and many, many incredible birds such as the flirty and handsome warblers.

Because the "BOREAL" is so important to our province and Canada, our Boreal Ecology class (a 3rd year Biology course, St. John's campus) decided to profile the wonder of the biome. That's our class picture below – it was taken during a weekend field trip in September 2012 in the amazing Gambo Red Pine Forest Preserve.

(Back from left) Lance Penney, Daniel Windeler, Trent Pollett, Justin Strong, Andrew Fudge, Fred Tulk, Jennifer Stratton, Seth Bennett, Aaron Edwards, Sarah deMolitor, (Front from left) Nichole Hutchcraft, Ashley Billard, Corrina Copp (Teaching Assistant) and Tucker Kissler. Absent from picture: Dr. Luise Hermanutz (Instructor).

Our Boreal Ecology Class has created a Website. Our website discusses ideas and topics that help us understand just how important the Boeal biome is globally, nationally and provincially. Many people may not realize that the Boreal occurs globally around the northern hemisphere (see map below), making up more than 1/3 of Canada's land mass – and about 10% is found within Newfoundland and Labrador. In St. John's all we have to do is look to Pippy Park, our own incredible urban Boreal park. Many of our rural communities are surrounded by boreal forest. The Boreal biome has been the backbone of our rural communities, providing crucial economic, historical, cultural and ecological functions, from the paper we write on, to the wild blueberries and moose we eat and the air we breathe.

The webpage doesn't just highlight the many benefits we get from the Boreal; rather it digs a little deeper. You will find topics relating to why the Boreal is where it is, how it sustains itself through natural disturbances such as fire and insect infestations (strange, but they are what helps the forest stay health), how cultural groups have used the many boreal plants for medicine and food (ethnobotany), how we are making sure we preserve the Boreal for our sustainable future, and how climate change is predicted to affect the future of the Boreal biome. A neat section highlights some of the fascinating research being done by Memorial students and faculty.

We hope you enjoy the page we have created. Please keep in mind that this page has been designed by students in BIOL 3610 as a class project, thus this is as much of a learning process for us as it will hopefully be for you. We'd appreciate any feedback!

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