Canadian team to study, collect Arctic plants

Botanist Paul Sokoloff collected plants in the Coppermine River region in the Northwest Territories in July 2014. (Canadian Museum of Nature).
Botanist Paul Sokoloff collected plants in the Coppermine River region in the Northwest Territories in July 2014. (Canadian Museum of Nature).
Botanists from the Canadian Museum of Nature are travelling to Hudson Bay, near the community of Arviat, Nunavut on an annual mission to study and collect Arctic plants.

They will spend four weeks on flat, coastal tundra peppered with small lakes and ponds, and because it is summer, there should be a wide variety of plant life.

A short, but colourful growing season

“They’ll be mostly very small, mostly perennial plants, so plants that live several or many, many years,” says Lynn Gillespie, a research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“The shrubs tend to grow more or less prostrate on the ground…It will be quite beautiful…We have a beautiful yellow poppy, we have different kinds of saxifrages, different kinds of willows and lots of really colourful lichens.”

Listen the interview with Lynn Gillespie:
 Museum botanist Dr. Lynn Gillespie scans terrain at a fieldcamp on Victoria Island in 2007. The plant press in the foreground is used to dry collected plants for transport and then study. (Roger Bull/Canadian Museum of Nature)
Canadian Museum of Nature botanist Dr. Lynn Gillespie taking field notes along the Soper River, during a 2012 expedition on Baffin Island. (Roger Bull/Canadian Museum of Nature)
Results for the public and scientists

The plants that are collected will be taken to the National Herbarium at the museum where they will be available to the public to see. Information and papers about them will be available to scientists around the world.

Gillespie says it is important to document plants, mosses and lichens so we know what is in the North, and to see how it evolves with climate change. The information will also be helpful to the government of Nunavut which is planning to set up a new territorial park.

 Museum botanist Dr. Lynn Gillespie scans terrain at a fieldcamp on Victoria Island in 2007. The plant press in the foreground is used to dry collected plants for transport and then study. (Roger Bull/Canadian Museum of Nature)
Museum botanist Dr. Lynn Gillespie scans terrain at a fieldcamp on Victoria Island in 2007. The plant press in the foreground is used to dry collected plants for transport and then study. (Roger Bull/Canadian Museum of Nature)
Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Mushroom rush in Yukon, Canada, Radio Canada International

Finland: Farmers eye weather as harvest season approaches in Finland, Yle News

Sweden:  Growing tomatoes in Sweden’s Far North, Radio Sweden

United States:  Foraging for Alaska’s wild plants, Alaska Dispatch

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Lynn Desjardins, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Lynn has dedicated her working life to journalism. After decades in the field, she still believes journalism to be a pillar of democracy and she remains committed to telling stories she believes are important or interesting. Lynn loves Canada and embraces all seasons: skiing, skating, and sledding in winter, hiking, swimming and playing tennis in summer and running all the time. She is a voracious consumer of Canadian literature, public radio programs and classical music. Family and friends are most important. Good and unusual foods are fun. She travels when possible and enjoys the wilderness.

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