Kananaskis Field Stations And G-8 Legacy Chair In Wildlife Ecology

2006 Winner: Excellence In Science And Technology Public Awareness

Research Stations Offer A Wealth Of Environmental Knowledge For The Public

It started with only a few tents and tarps on a crude dirt road by the Sheep River as a place to study trout. Now, more than five decades later, it is an internationally recognized institute for ecological research and education. The Kananaskis Field Stations (KFS) provide a variety of research and education opportunities on the Canadian Rocky Mountain and adjacent foothills ecosystems for participants ranging from grade school students to PhD candidates.

The field stations are operated by the University of Calgary and consist of two bases: the Barrier Lake Station built in 1967 in the Kananaskis Valley, 80 km west of Calgary; and the R.B. Miller Station founded in 1950 in the Sheep River Provincial Park, 110 km southwest of Calgary.

Significant Research Opportunities

They have served as sites for significant studies by Canadian and international scientists on trout, grouse, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, grizzly bears, small mammals, wildlife diseases, wildfires, forest dynamics, insect disturbances, fragmentation, carbon and nutrient cycling, and biodiversity.

The KFS now work in partnership with the G-8 Legacy Chair (G8 Chair) in Wildlife Ecology. The G8 Chair was launched in 2003 as a $2-million, five-year initiative funded by Environment Canada to stimulate research to support sustainable management and protect the landscape and wildlife in the area.  The KFS Director and the G8 Chair positions are currently both held by biologist Dr. Edward Johnson.

Educating the Public

A common goal of the KFS and the G8 Chair is to increase and enhance the public awareness and understanding of science and technology in Alberta. They promote their research outcomes to the public through school programs, university courses, professional development workshops and conferences, community outreach activities and by supporting policy decisions.

The organization’s school programs, designed to enhance and extend the science curricula, have welcomed more than 65,000 students and teachers from 94 schools across Alberta and Canada during the past 16 years. As well, university courses are offered by 15 universities, in Canada and abroad.

Key Collaboration

As a place for professional development, the KFS and G8 Chair programs bring together environmental professionals with researchers, students and citizens to keep them abreast of the latest technology, knowledge and skills, through workshops, symposia, seminars and meetings.

The group also contributes to policy decisions, transferring the work of researchers to the public realm and to decision makers. The KFS and the G8 Chair have participated in and facilitated a number of workshops and meetings on natural resource and environmental policy issues. In addition, many KFS researchers serve on scientific committees which influence policy decisions such as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.