Dr. Jade Savage, professor of Biology at Bishop’s University, is one of the world’s leading experts in the taxonomy of house flies and their relatives (family Muscidae), a dominant group of insects in the Arctic. Monitoring how populations and species assemblages change over time could shed some light on the impacts that climate change is having on biodiversity, particularly in northern regions where it is more pronounced.
This is what Sarah Loboda, a Ph.D. candidate co-supervised by Dr. Savage and colleagues at McGill University and Aarhus University in Denmark, is trying to establish. Her doctoral research consists of investigating changes in the species assemblages of muscid flies as well as in the morphology and genetic composition of selected species over a period of 20 years in Zackenberg (northern Greenland). This research is a unique opportunity to learn more about the response of arctic biodiversity to rapid climatic changes and relies on a unique data set resulting from 20 years of standardized sampling in Zackenberg (BioBasis Program, Aarhus University).
This research project was developed by Dr. Savage, who sought the collaboration of colleagues in other institutions in order to see it to fruition. Sarah Loboda is trained by Dr. Savage to identify species and interpret her results based on the respective ecological requirements of all species involved, whereas questions regarding the ecological implications of her discoveries are developed in collaboration with her other co-supervisors.
Since Dr. Savage’s arrival at Bishop’s, the university’s insect specimen collection has increased by over 100,000 species and includes reference material from the local fauna as well as specimens from arctic, alpine and agricultural habitats. This active reference collection, which is constantly being developed, is housed in cabinets that can ensure the integrity and preservation of its specimens.
Dr. Jade Savage is currently funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s Agri-Innovation Program. She is also collaborating with colleagues at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding to create a complete reference library of DNA barcodes for Canadian Muscidae species (approximately 450 species). The Research Support Fund supports access to the laboratories, computers and equipment that allow Dr. Savage and her team to conduct their research.