Bugs Can Show Us a Thing or Two

White-lined sphinx moth from Wikimedia Commons

This week, we’re taking cues from creepy crawlies—for solving crime, and for innovative new technologies. And we’re beginning a new partnership with the show Science Faction. Today, they’ll divulge the fascinating secrets of fire ants.

Download episode

Piecing Together a Murder using Bugs

Piecing together a crime can be a messy business. Police can run up against unreliable witnesses, or destroyed evidence. But what if the animals around a body could tell you a story about what happened? Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has this story from forensic entomologist and Simon Fraser University professor Gail Anderson in Vancouver.

Science Faction: The Physics of Fire Ants

This week because, we’re starting our inaugural partnership with the show Science Faction. They’re committed to telling unbelievable science stories, with none of the jargon. Once a month you’ll get a tagged-team show, and this month, we hear about one of the most fascinating family of insects out there: the ant. Specifically, the fire ant. What you’ll find out will surprise you.

Science Faction starts at the 14 minute mark.

What’s Happening

BioBlitz with Wildlife Society and Beaver Hills Initiative – January 18th

On Sunday, January 18th, from 1 – 4 PM, at the Strathcona Wildlife Center, the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society & Beaver Hills Initiative will be hosting a fun-filled BioBlitz . Activities include: meeting a live owl and some cold-blooded friends; a short talk on how biologists count moose from above, find clues from scat, and learning about the fascinating world of beavers; heading out on the trail with a professional biologist to learn more about the study of wildlife through tracks, signs and sounds; short demonstrations on using wildlife cameras, radio telemetry and the art of tracking, and a scavenger hunt. At the end there’ll be a hot drinks and campfire snacks. You can walk, ski or snowshoe (equipment rentals available) – fun for the whole family!

Edmonton WaterCity 2040 – January 19th

On Monday, January 19, the Edmonton Transformative Leaders of the Future Team are putting on their first in a series of events that examine future scenarios for the City of Edmonton. The event will explore Edmonton WaterCity 2040, a scenario planning initiative that maps out a sustainable water strategy for the next twenty five years. Attend the event to learn about how the initiative applies innovative thinking and design strategies to create a water system that is resilient, responsible, and responsive. You don’t need to be a water expert to attend! The event starts at 6PM and takes place at the University of Alberta.

Sustainable Building Advisor Program – January 16 to May 2

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) Program is a comprehensive certification program that trains you in practical, forward-thinking ways to design, construct and manage buildings that are resource efficient, environmentally responsible, cost effective, and healthy for all occupants. The SBA Program is applicable to new construction and existing buildings, in both the commercial and residential sectors.

The program is delivered in the form of interactive lectures taught by subject experts, with hands-on exercises and field trips to exemplary projects. The course culminates with a final presentation based on team projects and an exam that earns you the designation Certified Sustainable Building Advisor, (CSBA). The early bird deadline is November 14, 2014.The program is being provided through the Canada Green Building Council.


Piecing Together a Murder with Bugs and Ecology of Caribou

This week on the show, we’re figuring out what bugs can help solve murders, and how boreal caribou are doing. Forensic entomologist Dr. Gail Anderson in Vancouver tells us about her work helping police solve crimes with insects. Then University of Alberta professor Fiona Schmiegelow helps us understand the mysteries of caribou population swings.

Gail Anderson holds up the issue of Time magazine she was featured in

Dr. Gail Anderson’s forensic entomology work has been featured in Time (Photo credit: SFU Media & Public Relations)

Piecing Together a Murder with Bugs
Piecing together a crime can be a messy business. Police can run up against unreliable witnesses, or destroyed evidence. But what if the animals around a body could tell you a story about what happened? Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has this story from forensic entomologist and Simon Fraser University professor Gail Anderson in Vancouver.
Ecology of Caribou
Although in recent years it seems like they’ll put anything on the back of a quarter, the caribou remains one of Canada’s most recognized national symbols, right up there with Mounties and beavers. Sadly, they are a national symbol in decline. From our archives, Terra Informa correspondent Rebekah Rooney helps us understand a little bit about their ecology. Featuring an interview with  University of Alberta professor Fiona Schmiegelow.


Alberta First Nation challenges Shell expansion
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is filing a groundbreaking constitutional challenge to the proposed expansion of the tar sands by Shell Oil, a proposal based in the territories of the First Nation. Shell’s proposed Jackpine Mine project would mean 100,000 barrels of oil per day being taken out of Treaty 8 territories.
No European moratorium on Arctic drilling
European union lawmakers have decided not to impose strict regulations or a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. Instead, a new motion proposed that companies must have “adequate financial security” in case of any accidents and to submit safety hazard and emergency response reports to national authorities.
More on this story: Nunatsiaq, The Guardian, Alaska Dispatch
West coast communities fight Coast Guard closures
A union representing the Canadian Coast Guard’s marine communications officers is putting forth another plea to the government to reconsider the closing of three communications offices on the west coast. The federal government has decided to close offices in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino on Coast Salish First Nations’ territories, in the next three years.
More on this story: Metro News, The Province, CKNW AM 980
What’s Happening

Grub @ West Kootenay EcoSociety

If you’re looking for food and friends in Nelson, you might be interested in Grub, on October 19. Grub is a little mix and mingle event hosted by the West Kootenay EcoSociety. Celebrate local food and farms with locally-sourced munchies, and sample some beers and wines.  $10 at the door or become an EcoSociety member and get in free. October 19, from 5-7 pm, at the Anglican Church Hall in Nelson.

More information: West Kootenay EcoSociety

Disc Brake workshop in Winnipeg

If you’re like me and you have a bike but you wish you knew more about how to take care of it, there’s a workshop coming up in Winnipeg you might want to check out. The Bike Dump – that’s a community bike shop in Winnipeg – they’re hosting a disc brake workshop on Wednesday, October 24. Learn a little bit about how disc brakes work. Like all their workshops, it’s free, and it runs from 6 to 8 pm. No prior registration needed!

More information: The Bike Dump

Food Secure Canada Conference in Edmonton

Registration is open now for Food Secure Canada’s Annual Assembly in Edmonton. Taking place November 1st to 4th at NAIT in Edmonton. The theme this year is Powering Up! Food for the Future. Learn about Canada’s food movement, and find ways to get involved in a citizen-owned food policy for Canada. Terra Informa’s own Kathryn Lennon will be speaking! So are Eriel Deranger, Michael Lewis, and other farmers, and researchers, and foodies from Yukon, Guinea-Bissau, and Guatemala.

More information: Register for the Food Secure Canada Conference

Edmonton Food and Agriculture Public Hearing

If you haven’t heard about the October 26th public hearing on Edmonton’s draft food and agriculture strategy, consider heading down to City Hall that day. This will be the only public hearing on the draft City-Wide Food and Agriculture Strategy. It’s a Friday, but you don’t have to stay for the whole thing. If you’re passionate about how we grow food in and around Edmonton, what kind of land is going to be available for it, consider going down. October 26, from 9:30 am til 5:30 pm.

More information: Facebook