A distinguished program training the next generation of conservation scientists

December 21, 2005

Eight doctoral students--from Canada to Chile, and from Florida to Ohio, Illinois and Georgia--are receiving significant multi-year scholarships this year to conduct cutting-edge research critical to conserving and managing national parks throughout the Americas.

These students comprise the ninth class of Scholars for The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program. The program encourages innovative research on scientific problems critical to national parks by annually awarding eight US$78,000 scholarships to support the education and research expenses of graduate students for three years.

A collaboration among Canon U.S.A., Inc., the National Park Service (NPS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the scholarship program selects students from the disciplines of biological sciences, physical sciences, social and cultural sciences, and technology innovation in support of conservation science. Four honorable mentions were also selected by the international review panel convened by the AAAS.

"We are enthused and energized to welcome this new group of outstanding young scientists to the program," said Dr. Gary Machlis, Canon Scholars program coordinator and NPS visiting senior scientist. "Their selection by the AAAS recognizes the scientific merit of their projects, which will benefit national parks throughout the Americas."

The 2005 recipients are studying places and topics that include ecologically critical regions in Florida's Everglades National Park; whether invasive species in Canada's Kluane National Park cause the greatest loss of native species in areas protected from land-use change; and the interconnections between populations of fish and invertebrate species on either side of the California-Mexico international border. Canon Scholars have conducted research in more than 69 national parks and have published and presented more than 219 scientific articles.

"As a member of the world community, Canon will continue to actively contribute to society through programs that enhance scientific exploration and the protection of the global environment," said Yoroku Adachi, president and CEO of Canon U.S.A., Inc. and chairman of Canon Canada, Inc. "We are proud to partner with AAAS and the U.S. NPS to sustain this unique and very important program."

Earlier this year, the work of all Canon Scholars, dating back to 1997, was featured in a special report that describes their contributions to the preservation of natural and cultural resources in national parks throughout the Americas. The report, Training the Next Generation of Conservation Scientists, can be viewed on www.usa.canon.com/environment.

AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner said that the association is proud to be a partner in this exciting and important program. "The Canon Scholars program perfectly fulfills AAAS' mission to advance science and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people," said Leshner. "Investing in the next generation of researchers makes good sense for the long-term health of national parks, national treasures throughout the Americas." While welcoming the class of 2005 that includes students from throughout the Americas, the participating organizations also officially opened competition for the 2006 Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program. Details of the 2006 competition are available at www.nature.nps.gov/canonscholarships/.

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. For more information about the NPS visit www.nps.gov.

Canon U.S.A. and Canon Canada deliver consumer, business-to-business, and industrial imaging solutions. The parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE: CAJ), is a top patent holder of technology, with global revenues of US$33.3 billion. To date, Canon has committed more than US$10 million to the Canon Scholars program. Since 1990, the company's environmental philanthropy has exceeded US$30 million in the Americas, establishing it as one of the largest corporate supporters of environmental education and conservation.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

2005 Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program

Canon Scholars' Research Summaries

Natalie Ban from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a student at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) who is comparing the conservation potential of stakeholder-driven versus science-driven marine reserves election in the province. The Canon Scholar will conduct research in Pacific Rim National Park (British Columbia, Canada) to assess the ability of the latest site selection technology to incorporate social and ecological dimensions into new park establishment.

Benjamin Gilbert from Buckingham, Quebec, Canada, and a student at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) will study exotic plants in Kluane National Park (Yukon, Canada) to determine if invasive species cause the greatest loss of native species in areas protected from land-use change. According to the Canon Scholar, the negative impacts of invasive species will likely increase in the near future. Environmental change caused by global warming is predicted to alter ecosystems, causing population fluctuations in extant plant species and concurrently allowing more invasive plant species to become established.

Trevor Lantz from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and studying at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) will look at climate change, disturbance and tall shrub dynamics in the western Canadian arctic and subarctic. Evidence indicates that tundra communities are becoming dominated by tall shrubs. Increased shrubbiness will impact many aspects of northern parks including: caribou habitat, nutrient and permafrost dynamics, natural disturbance regimes, and plant community composition. To date, research has been minimal to quantify the extent or examine causes of this change inside or outside of national parks. Research by the Canon Scholar will be conducted in Tuktut Nogiat National Park (Northwest Territories, Canada).

Julia McCleave from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) will study the regional integration of national parks in Canada. The integration of national parks into surrounding regions has received significant worldwide attention over the past 20 years. Problems in regional integration can lead to strained relationships between park staff and local residents, a lack of co-ordination among governmental agencies, and conflict among regional policies and plans. Biosphere reserves have been identified as tools for improving the regional integration of national parks. Four national parks (three of which are within biosphere reserves) have been selected as case studies: Kejimkujik National Park (Nova Scotia, Canada); Bruce Peninsula National Park (Ontario, Canada); Gros Morne National Park (Newfoundland, Canada) and Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada).

Ivan Diaz from Santiago, Chile, and the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A.) will study the food web supported by large trees that involves epiphytes, arthropods and birds in Chiloe National Park (Grand Island of Chiloe in southern Chile) with emphasis in conservation and management. This is the only park that includes extensive lowland Valdivian forests, the richest and most endangered forest in this region, and considered a hot-spot of global biodiversity. The research also has management implications, because current practices propose homogenization of forest structure eliminating large trees. The Canon Scholar will analyze the consequences of loss of the epiphytic layer on biodiversity and ecological roles of birds as regulators of herbivore outbreaks.

Laurel Griggs Larsen from Titusville, Florida, and the University of Colorado-Boulder (Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.) is studying formation and maintenance of the ridge and slough landscape in Everglades National Park (Homestead, Florida). The ridge and slough landscape, an ecologically critical region, has been deteriorating since drainage and compartmentalization began in the late 1800s. The proposed research will test a conceptual model of the hydrodynamics involved in formation and maintenance of the landscape, hence enabling more informed restoration decisions. Through this work, the Canon Scholar will estimate flow velocities under which the ridge and slough landscape may have been created and issue recommendations of the flow velocities and phosphorus concentrations that should be implemented to restore the landscape.

Colleen O'Brien from Hudson, Ohio, and the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia, U.S.A.) will conduct research in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Ajo, Arizona). Ethnographic research will be conducted to document the historical and present day connections of desert people to the area's natural resources so that a biocultural component can be integrated into threatened and endangered species monitoring programs. The Canon Scholar's research will facilitate management directives for increasing community outreach to culturally diverse audiences and to create additional interpretive programs and visitor services that link nature and human culture. By integrating research information into educational programs, park staff will be better able to connect with culturally diverse populations surrounding the park and can build a new set of stakeholders involved in park conservation.

Crow White from Barrington, Illinois, and the University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.) is studying at Channel Islands National Park Ventura, California. The Canon Scholar project will focus on the interconnections between populations of fish and invertebrate species on either side of the California-Mexico international border. Despite the fact that California is moving quickly toward promoting sustainable harvest through ecosystem-based management approaches in its own waters, there has been little consideration of the role of other regions in supplying individuals. Indirect evidence suggests that ocean currents may cause a significant number of marine communities in California to depend on larval re-seeding from Baja, Mexico, with populations in Channel Islands National Park particularly susceptible to fluctuations in recruitment from southern source locations. Current and novel management strategies will be explored to identify practical solutions providing for successful management of an ensemble of valuable fishery species along the west coast of North America.

2005 Honorable Mention Awards

The following students received an Honorable Mention Award:

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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