Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

June 19, 2009 14:30 ET

Botany Super Team to Pursue Research in Western Arctic by Canoe

EDS NOTE: Of interest to NWT media

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 19, 2009) - A team of botanists from the Canadian Museum of Nature is heading to the northeastern Northwest Territories in late June to study and collect plants in an area of the western Arctic that historically has been difficult to access.

For 24 days, Drs. Lynn Gillespie, Laurie Consaul, and Jeff Saarela, along with their research assistant Roger Bull, will rely upon canoes as their only transportation down the Hornaday River in Tuktut Nogait National Park. Guides from Parks Canada will accompany them through this remote, pristine part of Canada where the scenery is exquisite and the mosquitoes are relentless.

They are aiming to build a botanical record of an area practically unrepresented in the Museum's collections. The western Arctic is poorly explored botanically. In its close to 100-year history of collecting in the Arctic, the Canadian Museum of Nature has a larger inventory of plants from the eastern Arctic than from the west.

Already used to roughing it together, the team conducted fieldwork for four weeks in July 2008 on Victoria Island, which is bisected by the NWT-Nunavut border. There they collected over 1,100 specimens and some 202 species of plants. They are still analyzing the findings but have already discovered two species that are new to Canada, including a type of Arctic poppy, Papaver hultenii. They also found some rare species that have a larger distribution than previously thought.

Of particular interest to the researchers will be any evidence of plant migration northward due to the warming effects of climate change.

Schedule: The team will arrive in Inuvik, NWT on June 24 and will be available for interviews on June 25. From June 26 to July 20, they will be conducting research along the Hornaday. Three of the four will be back in Inuvik on July 29-30 (Saarela leaves on July 21), and will return to Ottawa on July 31.

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