Marine Biology Programs 

The evening programs of the Marine Biology Section are held from January through April and September through December on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Centre, 949 49th Ave W (49th at Oak), Vancouver. These programs are open to the public and members are encouraged to invite their friends. For more information and suggestions for future programs please contact the Program Co-ordinator Joan Lopez at 604-682-1617.

Thursday, October 12
Integrating Parasite Ecology and Marine Biology
Dr. Colin MacLeod

The effects of parasites in the marine environment are substantial, sometimes dramatic, but frequently overlooked by marine biologists. Parasitic infection can alter the behaviour, reproduction and survival of host organisms, and these effects subsequently alter the biological interactions between the infected and uninfected conspecifics, and between infected individuals and their predators and/or prey. As a thought experiment, if we assume that the significant, negative effects of climate change found in many marine species will also apply to marine parasites (not a great leap), and place our assumption in the context of parasite ecology, we begin to appreciate the scale at which these negative effects could alter marine ecosystems. In this presentation, Dr. MacLeod will provide an overview of the current (limited) integration of parasitology and marine biology, highlight key results from his own research, and discuss this neglected field of marine science in the context of biodiversity, community structure and ecosystem stability.  

Dr. MacLeod is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, working on the combined effect of ocean acidification and parastic infection on marine invertebrates.

Thursday, November 9
Acoustic Communication in Belugas: A Sound-centered Species in Today's Noisy World
Dr. Valeria Vergara

Dr. Valeria Vergara has been eavesdropping on whales for years! From the Vancouver Aquarium to Hudson Bay, from the Canadian Arctic to the St. Lawrence Estuary, researcher Valeria Vergara has listened to the communication sounds made by belugas in diverse environments. She is primarily interested in the communicative and perceptual abilities of marine mammals, and the conservation implications of such capacities. She directs and coordinates field studies on beluga whales through the Marine Mammal Research Program at the Vancouver Aquarium. 

Valeria Vergara's ground-breaking doctorate research at the University of British Columbia was the first to document how beluga calves develop their rich repertoire of vocalizations and to identify contact calls critical for maintaining cohesion within the group and mother-calf contact. Her studies allow her to address the problems that this sound-centered species faces in an increasingly noisy environment.