Two Faculty Members Receive Funding from Defense Construction Canada

December 7, 2011

posted December 7, 2011

Brandon, MB — Two faculty members in the Faculty of Science — Dr. Pamela Rutherford and Dr. Terence McGonigle — will receive up to $200,000 for studies they are each undertaking. Dr. McGonigle is looking into the relationship between various environmental factors and leafy spurge, while Dr. Rutherford is investigating the northern prairie skink. These two Brandon University researchers were awarded the four-year Species-at-Risk contract from Defense Construction Canada (DCC) for research to be conducted at CFB Shilo.

“In Canada, the Northern Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) exists only in southwestern Manitoba, with much of the known population at CFB Shilo and Spruce Woods Provincial Park,” said Dr. Rutherford. “This lizard is endangered and loss of its prairie habitat is one of its major threats. This project’s goal is to determine how many skinks there are, and describe where they hibernate and reproduce, so that we can help conserve this species for the future.’

Dr. McGonigle’s research aims to find effective ways to limit the growth of leafy spurge, a troublesome, invasive weed that was accidentally imported from Europe to North America in the 1800s. It spreads quickly and its seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to seven years. The study’s findings will hopefully help minimize the negative influence leafy spurge has on native prairie species.

“These environmental factors affect not just the plants directly but also the insects and soil microbes that modify the growth of the weed, and so the study includes evaluation of these biological interactions,” said Dr. McGonigle. “The funding from Shilo is essential to carry forward this work over the upcoming years, and at the same time it provides support for student workers who gain significant experience in field-based research to advance their training and help build the next generation of scientists.”
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For more information, please contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Communications
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB R7A 6A9
Tel. 204-727-9762

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