Backyard Biodiversity

“Whoa, do you see all of them?” I overhear my excited classmate say as we stand on a bridge and watch spawning pink salmon in a smaller waterway next to the Mamquam river in the Squamish Valley. For block one of this year, I am in Biodiversity of British Columbia with professor Colin Bates. This course is a hands-on, and full of field work. In the first two weeks we spend 5 of the 10 weekdays outside of the classroom and when we are in the classroom we get to discuss and learn more about the things we see off campus. In the first week, we go to the Squamish spit and observe and record data of the rich variety of birds in the estuary where we see animals like Bald Eagles, Seagulls, Great Blue Herrings, Ravens, Sandpipers, and even a few bears!

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A few days later, we are bound for the Vancouver aquarium where we spend the day learning about different species of marine animals and their taxonomic order and ecological place.

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When we are on campus, we are continuously being engaged through peers presentations, invigorating discussions and, my favourite part – working in the lab. The class spends two days in the lab looking at things we  collect from our everyday lives. We observed them, sketched them, identified and categorized them, and look at them through microscopes. This can shed a whole new light on little plants and animals that are often taken for granted.

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So, why does Quest University require you to take a course on the biodiversity of British Columbia? Last week, I wasn’t quite sure but now I understand. Biodiversity is essentially the study of the future and local biodiversity is something we all need to be versed in. The importance that the health and wellbeing of the natural world around us has on our life and other future lives is immense. Biodiversity can exist without us but we can’t exist without the biodiversity and right now, we are killing it. I know I love the beauty of this planet, do you?

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