Dr. Mathilde Tissier, postdoctoral fellow of the Department of Biological Sciences at Bishop’s was recently awarded a Liber Ero fellowship. This fellowship seeks to support outstanding early-career scientists to conduct and communicate research that informs conservation and management issue relevant to Canada. Dr. Tissier is the first francophone woman and first person to receive this fellowship in Québec. She will be co-supervised by Dr. Patrick Bergeron and Dr. Valérie Fournier (Université Laval), with whom she has already worked during her previous studies.
During her fellowship, she will be studying bumblebee conservation and agricultural practices, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and researchers from four Universities *, as well as with farmers from Québec and Ontario. “Agricultural biodiversity is declining worldwide, leading to a reduction in ecosystem services and threatening food security and human health. Namely, many pollinators are threatened in North America. In Canada, more than $1 billion worth of fruits and vegetables depend on wild bees for pollination. Their role in pollinating wild plants, and thus maintaining the integrity and functionality of many ecosystems, is also major. Because they are active at low temperatures, bumblebees are key pollinators in our latitudes. Yet, seven species are already threatened with extinction in Canada. The main threats are habitat loss, parasitic infections, malnutrition and pesticide exposure, associated with intensive agriculture”, explains Dr. Tissier.
Her project will seek to identify concrete solutions to improve the resistance and resilience of bumblebees to those threats. “If we want to be efficient in improving bumblebee conservation status in Canada, all stakeholders must work together to co-construct a project that will integrate both the ecological and physiological needs of bumblebees together with the economic and social reality of farmers”.
Dr. Tissier’s knowledge, ranging from evolutionary ecology to conservation physiology and behavior, will be a great addition to the Bishop’s Community and to our expertise in environmental and agricultural sustainability, creating synergy with Bishop’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems programs.
* The team involves conservation practitioners (Sarah MacKell from Wildlife Preservation Canada and Dr. Carolyn Callaghan from the Canadian Wildlife Federation) and researchers from Bishop’s University (Dr. Patrick Bergeron and Dr. Jane Morrison), Université Laval (Dr. Valérie Fournier), UMass Amherst (Dr. Lynn Adler, USA) and York University (Dr. Sheila Colla).