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Support for collection maintenance operations

Green aracari (Pteroglossus virens).
Photo: Biodôme
Pteroglossus viridis

The primary mission of the Montréal Biodôme’s team of scientific advisors is to support the conservation, enhancement and development of living collections at the Biodôme and provide scientific support in managing these collections. Each of the scientific advisors also leads research in his or her field of expertise in regard to the institution’s mission and major research orientations. Some research projects support maintenance operations for the Biodôme’s living collections, while others are part of a collective effort from the scientific community to preserve nature. Certain projects conducted at the Biodôme or in the field help to broaden scientific knowledge about the ecology of species and habitats. Others support the protection of habitats, the conservation of biodiversity and the adoption of responsible behaviour towards nature that promotes sustainable development. The Biodôme’s research team is also interested in urban animal issues, conducting field work and advising managers in the public sector.

Reducing salinity and controlling operational costs related to the well-being of aquatic animals and ecosystem representativeness: A case study at the Montréal Biodôme

To comply with its priorities in terms of conservation, sustainable development and animal well-being, the Montréal Biodôme recently undertook an assessment of its main basin, in controlled conditions, of the effects of reducing salinity on organisms representing the collection of species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem. This measure was part of an objective to improve water quality and better utilize operational budgets; it also took into consideration the physiological adaptation mechanisms that come into play when there is a change in salinity. The tests we conducted using a range of saltwater concentrations enabled us to find the optimal salinity level for operating the St. Lawrence ecosystem. Salinity was reduced from 28 to 24 PSU.

Studying the role of the young in the green aracari’s parenting behaviour (Pteroglossus virens)

Cooperative reproduction is observed in 3.2 per cent of bird species. In most cases, the assistant is a juvenile that delayed its departure, staying on the parent’s territory. With green aracaris, the availability of nests, an ecological constraint, limits the departure of juvenile birds. In the Biodôme’s controlled environment, three juveniles were kept on the parents’ territory, which comprised four nests for shelter and reproduction. Our objective was to see if nest availability could influence reproductive assistance behaviour. Using surveillance cameras, we were able to quantify behaviour associated with parenting baby birds inside the nesting box. Our results confirmed that juveniles did help feed baby birds in the next two clutches for two consecutive years. Furthermore, a generous amount of nesting space did not seem to affect cooperative behaviour in this species.

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