Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network    
Canadian Wildlife Service     |      Acadia University     |     Memorial University of Newfoundland     |     University of New Brunswick
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RIP ACWERN

The Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network, or ACWERN is no longer operational. It was a small government-university research partnership.  Established in 1994, ACWERN brought together Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service with three universities in Atlantic Canada to provide the critical mass needed to work on applied research questions in wildlife conservation.

The partnership included research chairs at:
   University of New Brunswick (Dr. Tony Diamond),
   Memorial University of Newfoundland 
   Acadia University (Dr. Phil Taylor).  

ACWERN addressed research questions in a range of areas of wildlife ecology, with a focus on migratory birds and species at risk. Example research projects included:

  • quantifying impacts of marine oil pollution on seabirds of Atlantic Canada,
  • modelling causes of population declines of endangered Piping Plover,
  • assessing and mitigating risks presented by wind turbines to migrating landbirds,
  • understanding impacts of forest harvesting on songbirds in New Brunswick and western Newfoundland,
  • assessing impacts of changing climate and ocean temperatures on seabird populations in Labrador and the Bay of Fundy,
  • minimizing impacts of tour boat disturbance on colonial seabirds,
  • identifying essential foraging habitats for migrating shorebirds in the Bay of Fundy, and
  • quantifying impacts of low-flying jets on threatened Harlequin Ducks.


ABOUT ACWERN

The ACWERN Mission
Our central mission was to enhance understanding of wildlife ecology in Atlantic Region ecosystems.  We focused mainly on the relationship between human activities and changing ecological patterns and processes with the goal of relating research results to real problems in biodiversity conservation. The university-based scientists' research programs were linked with the more applied research objectives of the Canadian Wildlife Service and other interests.  

Our Goal
ACWERN’s 2004 Strategic Plan identified ways to implement the mission.  In doing so, it focused on the following goals:
• to enhance understanding of wildlife in Atlantic ecosystems,
• to apply scientific research to priority conservation and management issues, and
• to provide applied educational opportunities for students.


Universities and CWS
The ACWERN research chairs were tenured members of university faculty who supervised graduate and honours students, conducted their own research, and taught a limited range of senior-level courses.  ACWERN chairs were influential scientists in the field of wildlife ecology involved in a variety of ecological, conservation and academic organizations.  They were linked to CWS through a range of collaborative projects involving many different CWS researchers, most of whom had adjunct status at partner universities.

Our Influence
CWS and other research partners such as Parks Canada and provincial wildlife agencies benefited considerably from ACWERN’s help in addressing priority wildlife research questions. This included access to high-quality student support, peer review in the design of research projects, interaction with students through lectures and thesis supervision, and opportunities to up-grade specific scientific skills.

Funding
ACWERN had an annual operating budget that first exceeded $1M in 2004-05.  CWS’s annual contribution of $200K mainly provided research funding and student stipends.  It was supplemented by university contributions of about $300K in chair salaries and benefits, and $150K in student and research support.  About $650K in support for specific research projects came from partners in the industrial sector, non-government conservation organisations, and other government and granting agencies.

Governance  
ACWERN received guidance from a management board of two representatives from CWS,  two senior representatives and one graduate student from each university.  The board mets twice a year to review programs, approve work plans and budgets, and provide support to the chairs.