Research publication led by Dr. Christina Service honoured by the British Ecological Society

British Ecological Society announces its 2020 journal prize winners: Dr. Christina Service has been awarded the Ecological Solutions and Evidence Prize for her article “Spatial patterns and rarity of the white‐phased ‘Spirit bear’ allele reveal gaps in habitat protection.”

At Raincoast, our policy work and outreach are informed by the best available science. Often, that science is conducted by our team. We subject it to peer-review, which increases the rigour of the work and grants it increased authority ‘in the real world’. Our team at the Applied Conservation Science lab at the University of Victoria conducts highly-regarded scholarship for which we are frequently acknowledged. We received some very special news recently.

Last week the British Ecological Society (BES) announced the winners of its journal prizes for research published in 2020. 

The prizes are awarded for the best paper by an early career researcher in seven of the BES journals: Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, People and Nature, and for the first time, Ecological Solutions and Evidence

The prizes are awarded annually to the best paper in each journal written by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winning papers are selected by the Senior Editors of the journals. 

This year’s exceptional winning papers span topics as diverse as spirit bear genetics, coral reef productivity, plants reclaiming mining land and classifying elephants as refugees. 

Dr. Christina Service has been awarded this year’s Ecological Solutions and Evidence Prize for her article “Spatial patterns and rarity of the white‐phased ‘Spirit bear’ allele reveal gaps in habitat protection.”

Christina and colleagues examined the population genetics of the spirit bear dispelling previous beliefs about how this population is maintained, and found that the gene giving rise to Spirit bears is less common than previously estimated. Further, they found that about half of the spirit bear hotspots were located outside of protected areas.

Marc Cadotte, Senior Editor of the journal said, “this study provides a superb example of combining observational, genetic and spatial information to provide unparalleled conservation information.”

Christina Service said: “The allele frequency we report in this work was substantially lower than previously estimated in the academic literature. However, this result wasn’t “new” to the communities I collaborate with. Rather, it aligns with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation’s oral history that one in ten black bears are white (a Spirit bear), serving as a reminder of the last ice age and the hardships those times brought.”

Dr. Chris Darimont, our Science Director and lead of the ACS Lab at which Dr Service received her PhD, has expressed his gratitude for the effort and brilliant work by Dr. Service: “We are delighted to see Dr. Service being recognized by a journal like Ecological Solutions and Evidence – it’s a well-deserved honour for an extraordinary conservation scientist and practitioner.”


Study: Spatial patterns and rarity of the white‐phased ‘Spirit bear’ allele reveal gaps in habitat protection

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Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.