Sponge Reefs of the Pacific Canadian Deep


Photo credit: Canadian Geographic

This week, Terra Informer Jeremie Mahaux speaks with Nathan Grant, a graduate student at the University of Alberta. In their interview, we’ll hear about the Hecate Strait Marine Protected Area off the coast of northern British Columbia, as well as Nathan’s research on a fascinating and uniquely Canadian animal: glass sponges. Wanna hear about what a marine field scientist gets up to on the daily? What kind of food do they get to eat on coast guard ships? We’ll find out! 

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Alberta NDP shelving oil sands emissions cap

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Animals Where You’d Least Expect to Find Them


This week we jump into some interviews about animals in uncommon places here in Canada. Followed by an interview with a biologist who is also a hunter, discussing his thoughts on our relationship with wild animals.


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The Little Squirrel That Could

The Red Squirrel of the Yukon Territory weighs less than half a pound. Known for adorable chattering, collecting pine cones, and playfully scampering up trees, these guys may not seem like a very formidable presence when you consider their imposing surroundings in the great wilderness that is the Yukon.  But as we’ll soon find out, the red squirrel has a little trick up its sleeve. Matt Hirji spoke with University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin to find out more about how these amazing little creatures survive in their harsh northern environment.

Urban Coyotes

With human populations ever-expanding our territory, wildlife coming out of their natural wild habitats and into the concrete jungles we call home is an increasing issue. This includes urban coyotes, a unique issue across North America.  In recent years urban populations have sprung up in cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.  Now city residents must to learn how to coexist alongside these opportunistic carnivores.  Started in 2008, the ongoing Edmonton Urban Coyote Project is a multi-faceted study of coyotes based out of the University of Alberta. Their goal is to collect information on the movement, habitat selection and diet of coyotes, as well as the knowledge and perceptions of residents. Maureen Murray, a masters student involved with the project, filled Rebekah Rooney in about their work.

More information at their website →


Hunting can sometimes be a sensitive topic that raises some questions for animal lovers. When is an animal a friend and when is it food? Can you be a wildlife lover and also a meat eater? Kieran O’Donovan straddles an interesting an interesting line that gives him a pretty unique perspective on when an animal is a friend, and when it’s dinner. He’s a wildlife biologist and documentary filmmaker, but when he goes home to the Yukon, he’s also a hunter. Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat sat down with Kieran to talk about how he sees our relationships with other animals.

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Photo by, Mike McHolm

Understanding the 5th U.N. Climate Change Report

Under a white tent, scientist in suit stands in front of television camera, with onlookers.

Visitors put their questions to Climate scientists in the Met Office TV Studio, Manchester British Energy Challenge Exhibition, September 2013. Photos by Jason Broadhurst at JPB Studios Ltd.

Just one month ago, another alarming report emerged from the climate change scientists at the United Nations. It’s the fifth such report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and they only come out once every six years. In fact, the report is so large that we have only received the first of three sections. Working Group 1 released its report first, verifying the scientific basis of climate change.

This topic alone is so deep that it took the group more than three years of work, involving more than 800 authors, and incorporating over 9200 scientific publications. It’s work well worth the effort, as the IPCC is tasked with providing the proof that governments need to justify taking action on climate change.

Despite—or perhaps because of the report’s importance—its emergence has caused a furour in the media. All of which leaves those of us who simply want to understand what the IPCC is saying feeling lost. So this week, Terra Informa decided to devote the whole show to understanding the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (WG1 AR5).

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Today’s Guests

Jessica Kozlowski and Dimitri Kits are microbial physiologists at the University of Alberta. For their doctoral research, they are studying how microbial metabolisms affect the flux of greenhouse gas emissions—specifically organisms that consume methane and produce nitrous oxide. They’ll be guiding us through the report and answering questions you might have about climate science.

Beetles, Regenerative Buildings, Jane’s Walk, the Achuar Visit Talisman’s AGM and more!

This week’s show takes a look at everything from beetles to regenerative buildings, Jane’s Walk,  indigenous leaders from Peru’s Achuar people who are visiting Talisman Energy’s AGM, and the Yinka Dene Alliance Freedom Train. We end with the music of Rachelle Van Zanten, which warms us up for the launch of our Northern Gateway Pipeline Documentary next week.

Download This Weeks Show (Terra Informa -2012Apr29)

Junction Walk, Photo by Vic Gedris

The Acoustics of Bark Beetles

David Dunn, sound artist and composer produced an album in 2006 called The Sound of Light in Trees: The Acoustic Ecology of Pinyon Pines, in collaboration with the Acoustic Ecology Institute. With tiny microphones, he records the sounds of bark beetles in New Mexico’s pinyon pines. Beyond a fascinating listening experience, this is an innovative approach to the ecology of insects, and to monitoring bark beetle populations.

More on this story: The Sound of Light in Trees: The Acoustic Ecology of Pinyon Pines

The Ecology of Pine Beetles & Cold Temperatures

Regenerative Buildings

We’ve all heard of net-zero buildings..structures designed so they give back to the grid as much electricity as they take. But what if a building could actually regenerate its habitat? What if it could send electricity back to the grid, recharge the aquifer below it, and more? UBC’s new Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability – or CIRS – does just that. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips talks with Martin Nielsen is a principal at Perkins + Will Canada, the architects behind CIRS.

More on this story: The UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

Jane’s Walk

Get out and walk! On May 5th and 6th, join people across Canada and around the world in celebration of pedestrianism and urban-adventuring. The walks began in 2007, in legacy to Jane Jacobs, urban visionary, activist and writer. From Thunder Bay, to Guelph, Saskatoon to Winnipeg, Vancouver to Fredericton, walking tours led by volunteer tour-guides will happen everywhere! Find out what walks are planned for your community by visiting
Tweet about your walk, or follow Jane’s Walks on Twitter: #janeswalk

Achuar Leaders Visit Canada: Talisman Energy’s AGM, Fort MacMurry, and Other Communities

More on this story:, Fort McMurray Today, Intercontinental Cry

Yinka Dene Alliance Freedom Train

On April 29th, British Columbia’s Yinka Dene Alliance begins a cross-country Freedom Train journey on Monday, to declare their ban on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. They depart from Jasper, Alberta, and will stop in several cities, including Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg before arriving in Toronto for Enbridge’s annual shareholders meeting on May 9. Rallies and feasts are planned to welcome them in cities they stop in.

More on this story: Vancouver Observer

Rachelle Van Zanten

Mountain Pine Beetle & New Research On Oil Sands Reclamation

On this week’s show Myles talks with a previous contributor to Terra Informa, Rebecca Rooney, whose recently published research into oil sands reclamation has gained attention in the scientific community and challenged the industry’s public claims  regarding the quality of their reclamation practices.  We also bring our focus to another devastating force in western Canada, the mountain pine beetle, in an interview with researcher Dr. Janice Cooke. All of this and our weekly eco-headlines will give you your fix for Canadian environmental news.

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From Dr. Rooney's media presentation on the paper 'Oil sands mining and reclamation cause massive loss of peatland and stored carbon'

News Headlines

World Water Forum declaration falls short on human rights, claim experts

MPs’ plan to streamline environmental oversight draws opposition fire

NDP says leaked documents show feds abandoning fresh water oversight

Environmental crunch worse than thought: OECD 2050 report

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain pine beetles are about the size of the head of a match. Even for an insect, they’re pretty insignificant. But their effect on forests is hard to put into words. Over the past decade they’ve turned the mountains and valleys of central BC from lush green to red, wiping out the province’s lodgepole pines for hundreds of kilometres on end. Now they’re slowly moving eastward, with the outbreak well under way in Alberta. What does this summer hold in store for Canada’s forests? And how far east will the mountain pine beetles ultimately advance? We speak with Dr. Janice Cooke for the latest on the outbreak.

Bonus Content: Interviews with Andrew Nikiforuk and Dr. Dezene Huber

Peatland & Stored Carbon Loss Due To Oilsands Reclamation Plans

This week Terra Informa correspondent Rebecca Rooney took a break from reporting on the news, and instead made some headlines of her own. Rebecca holds a PhD in wetlands ecology from the University of Alberta and is the lead author of a new scientific study on the reclamation of the Alberta oil sands. The study quantifies for the first time the changes in the ecology and ecological services offered by the areas which are to be reclaimed after mining operations are complete. Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry met up with Dr Rooney to get a summary of what these new findings reveal about the tar sands’ cumulative impacts.