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Update on new course on ReWilding and Ecological Restoration (ERS 375-001)

In winter 2017, I am launching a new course on ReWilding & Ecological Restoration.

The UPDATED syllabus is attached:  ers-375-001-syllabus-jan-3Note that this is even more current that what is on the SERS website (I made some changes after we closed for xmas; I’ll ask Patti to post the new version as soon as possible after we open again on Jan 3)

Like the syllabus draft says:

“ReWilding is the macro-scale approach to conserving and restoring the socioecological resilience of ecosystems.   It can be spatially explicit and quite dependent on large scale modelling and landscape ecology but it can also take a more integrative approach that is more geared towards ecological planning, management, and monitoring of the whole socioecological system. Core to the mission of the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability, this course will explore the full range of facets that ReWilding involves.  Specifically, the course will focus on restoration and conservation at landscape scale, including an emphasis on connectivity, reintroduction of keystone species, novel ecosystems, re-introduction of apex predators, herbivores, and omnivores.  Because ReWilding can be infused with various political agenda and ideologies, technocratic issues, policy ambitions, and governance issues, students can expect to experience a course focused on ecology and technical skills but contextualized and connected to the larger concepts of socioecological change and resilience.  There will be at least one applied project that partners with a multi-sectoral group focused on ReWilding the Lake Simcoe ecosystem; in this manner, students will have an experiential application of the principles in the course.”

Looking to enrol in winter 2017? The first offering has the usual experimental number – ERS 375.  My section is 001; class number 5089.  The permission number can be obtained through Patti Bester – again, once we open for business Jan 3 (bear in mind Patti will have a zillion emails so be patient – you can show up for class Jan 4, regardless). Class is Monday and Wednesday 1300-1420 in EV1 350.

For those interested in future offerings: Pending final approval, the permanent number will be ERS 337 as of winter 2018.  For example, I’ll make make a few more changes – Jim Harris of Cranfield U and SER fame made some great additional suggestions for assigned readings that will be added for 2018.

CaRE and its many facets

You can take the smurphcare story with you anywhere as a pdf:
Conservation and Restoration Ecology (CaRE) Research july 15

One main focus is on conservation ecology especially in parks and protected areas. We take an inclusive approach as projects include population and community ecology studies on different habitats (e.g. prairies, forests, wetlands, shorelines, rivers) and taxa (e.g. plants, fungi, herptiles, arthropods, annelids). We work on the larger socioecological issues involved in management and governance needed to provide a desirable and resilient ecosystem – we have worked with cities, other municipalities, NGOs, private sector partners, federal and provincial agencies, and world organizations like UNESCO and UNEP.


Dianne, Jessica, Cheryl, Gwyn, Holly, Particia; Smurphcrew takes over yet another conference

Restoration ecology/resilient ecosystems frame our other major focus. Steve has chaired the Society for Ecological Restoration of Ontario, organized several of the International Meetings of the Society for Ecological Restoration, and been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Restoration Ecology. Steve and his team have led or participated in over 1500 restoration projects. We’ve restored functional aspects of novel and more historical ecosystems and restored prairies, forests, wetlands, shorelines, rivers, and meadows in rural and urban areas.


We work and play nice; Ph.D.  student Michael McTavish with Laurentian U’s Nate Basiliko and Peter Beckett and U Toronto’s Jason Shebaga at the Sudbury restoration sites in May 2015

We mostly work in the real world – outside – but do have a nice sample processing lab, This is equipped mainly with items you’d expect an ecology lab to have like nets, sampling boxes, quadrats, light meters, datapads, shovels, rakes, flagging tape and booby traps for any would be thieves reading this and taking notes.  Suffice to say, we’re well suited for field ecology research and spend most of our research dollars on student salaries, transportation to the field, and mass sample processing.


The CaRE lab; not shown – grad students who will go medieval on you if you mess up their stuff


Smurph in the lab; this is the face Smurph makes if grad students start going medieval on you

We have a terrific array of projects that have made a difference. We have restored over 70,000 ha of habitat, helped conserve over two dozen species-at-risk, and provided management plans and advice to hundreds of worldwide communities and organizations that balanced sustainable livelihoods with a desirably functional ecosystem. The CaRE group and its alumni are everywhere!


Smurph at SER 2013 with Lauren Hallett, Mike Perring, Tara Davenport and alumnus Dr. Darby McGrath; this was not the first time she had to support Steve


We really are everywhere – steve and/or his team have done research in ALL of the countries shaded in blue above – yes, that’s most every sovereign nation on earth

CaRE runs or helps to run several allied research centres:

Centre for Applied Sciences in Ontario Protected Areas – as this eponym suggests, this focuses on socioecological research and applications for management in Ontario protected areas – Provincial Parks, Provincial Nature Reserves, National Parks, Conservation Authorities, NGO run areas like those of the Nature Conservancy Canada and Carolinian Canada Coalition, First Nations governed sites like Serpent Mounds, and Municipal Parks.

Centre for Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation – like the name suggests, this concerns itself with the wider issue of cross-scalar approaches to ensuring ecosystems can self-maintain even under massive anthropogenic changes at a pace not witnessed since ice ages and meteor strikes rules the planet at different times.  Congruent with that issue is how humans can adapt to that new reality to create a more sustainable society – it would have been nice if we had planned for that already but we still have time.  ERA is a relative newcomer but we’ve starting making some excellent impacts with work via the US Government and the United Nations.

The journal Restoration Ecology.  Steve Murphy is Editor-in-Chief.  This is the major publishing arm of the Society for Ecological Restoration and represents the latest in one of the major foci of CaRE – best practices, policy, and science in restoration ecology. We are regularly found at the centre of conferences like the SER biennial international meetings. Steve was past-chair of SER Ontario; CaRE alumnus Sal Spitale is the current chair.

The rare Charitable Research Reserve.  This is one of the largest urban research areas and provides an excellent venue for conservation and restoration ecology research. Steve Murphy is part of the team that reviews research proposals and steers the ecological management plan.  Many of our students have done research there, worked there, or volunteered there.

CaRE has received extensive funding – over $20 million in the last 19 years.

We are or have been funded by every NSERC program and most SSHRC programs available. We have been funded by MITACS, Environment Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Candian Foundation for Innovation, CANARIE, City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo, BC Ministry of Transportation, Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculturem and Rural Affairs, United Nations Environmental Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of the Interior, several dozen private sector companies – mainly related to small scale consulting that give our students work experience but do not subvert a research agenda in any way. Our success at obtaining funding speaks to the quality and relevance of our research and applications.

CaRE has completed many projects and mentored many students.

CaRE has completed/participated in over 1200 projects and has graduated 20 post-docs/research associates, 175+ graduate students and 500+ undergraduate students. Our alumni are found across the globe but do dominate the Great Lakes restoration and conservation fields.