Environment Physiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Lab

Yuxiang Wang's

Environment Physiology & Aquatic Ecosystem Lab

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2014 Canada-China Field Course

This was the 9th incarnation of the Canada-China exchange field course, this year in China. The course ran from May 8th to May 22nd, and involved traveling from Chongqing to Shanghai. The course had 31 students (22 students from China – Tongji University, Southwest, Beijing Normal and Fudan, 9 students from 5 Canadian Universities – Waterloo, Guelph, Ottawa, York, Queens). We decided to offer this course in May for two reasons: First, the May weather is far more pleasant for doing fieldwork in China with temperature typically in the mid 20s (as compared to August when temperatures can soar to 40 degrees). Second, the cost of the airfare between Canada and China in August is particularly expensive for our students in August, and thus a May course helps bring down the costs for course participants. These dates were not without challenges. Specifically, there was a conflict with schedule of Chinese university students who were still taking classes as their term extends to the end of June. Indeed, Tongji students could only take second half of the course. Despite these challenges, the course was a great successful!

For the very first time, we had four faculty members from Canada: Dr. Yuxiang Wang, Dr. Steve Lougheed (Director of the Queen’s University Biological Station), Dr. Brian Cumming (Director of Environmental Studies), and Dr. Dan Lefebvre. We also had our ever-capable teaching assistant Mingzhi Qu, a doctoral student at Queen’s and a field course alumnus. We also had contributions from many key faculty members from Chinese institutions - Dr. Kat Stewart (a Queen’s graduate and new Tongji faculty member), Dr. Yiping Luo (Professor of biology with Southwest University, Chongqing and one-year post doctorial fellow in Queen’s), Dr. Xiaofan Wang (Wuhan University, BNU alumni), and Dr. Wenwei Ren (WWF Shanghai & Tongji University). This made for exceptional student teaching ratios and incredible opportunities for rich class discussions and intensive, experiential field learning.

We began our course in Chongqing, adding a new site visit to our itinerary from previous years – Jindao Xia (golden saber canyon, feathered spectacular landscape and biodiversity in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. As we have done in previous years, we spend 4 days on the Yangtze River exploring many field sites in the Three Gorges area and exploring environmental issues through student seminars and class discussions on the boat. We disembarked at the city of YiChang after having passed through the locks of the Three Gorges Dam, and took a bus to HongHu City. At HongHu, we visited WWF project center and then explored the lake itself, noting the marked changes that have occurred as a result of the efforts of local governments in partnership with WWF. We then traveled to the large (and famous) city of Wuhan. In Wuhan there were many highlights, including a tour of the museum at the Hydrological Institute (>400,000 specimens) and a visit to the Center of River Dolphin Research where students witnessed first-hand live river porpoises. For the first time ever on the course, we visited Wuhan Botanical Garden to explore the stunning plant diversity of China (a particular focus was the aquatic macrophyte display which helped to prepare students for subsequent wetland projects). We took a high-speed train to the city of Wuxi, where we visited one of the Tai Lake algae cleaning stations, which aids in addressing algal bloom issues. We also visited JDECO, a company that is in the process of reconstructing a wetland to help reduce nutrient loading in the lake. This set the stage for a daylong project at the GongHuWan Wetland Reconstruction Project, where students gained hands-on experience in identifying macrophytes, studied phytoplankton, learned how to assess water chemistry, and gained insights into methods for surveying vertebrate diversity (from fish to birds). The activities in Wuxi were followed by a visit to Yangtze Environment Specimen Bank in JiaXing, Zhejiang where we explored the important of specimen bank and environment research, and also the utility of sediments in revealing past environment changes.

One of the final events of the course was a visit to Chongming Island where we spent time at the Dongtan National Nature Reserve exploring avian diversity in this wetland of national importance. We also visited the HeXie Organic Farm – a major supplier of organic foods for top restaurants in Shanghai. The farm uses sound ecological principles to produce everything from turtles, bullfrogs, and crayfish to black rice. Later on, the class had an opportunity to meet and discuss with Mr. Christopher Shallis about the green and organic farming practice in fast developing areas in China over a fine lunch. The venue was held in Madison restaurant of Shanghai who include organic foods from the farm in menu.(?) In the remaining time in Shanghai, we visited the Shanghai fish market, exploring the origins (e.g. Greenland, Australia, Africa, North America, Argentina, China) of the vast diversity of seafood found at this massive facility. Complementing this was our visit to the East China Sea Aquaculture and Fishery Research Institute, where we explored their excellent museum with both specimens of marine organisms and a wonderful display of various fishing practices using scale models. The final events were a visit to WWF Shanghai office where Dr. Wenwei Ren give us an excellent talk on the activities of WWF in China, and a visit to Shanghai Energy Museum, where we learned about energy conservation and new green technologies that will allow us to reduce the reliance on coal and hydro dams to produce China’s electricity.

All in all, the students expressed their great satisfaction about all that they had learned about human impacts on environment and how we may possibly rectify these issues.

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2014年是中加环境与生物学野外课程的第9年。课程于5月8日-22日在中国(从重庆至上海)进行。由于5月处于中国学生的正常授课学期内此外,为了更好的配合中国各高校的课程安排,我们允许部分学生参加1周的半程课程。经过各方努力,最终有两国9所高校的31名学生报名参加了今年的野外课程。其中,加拿大学生9人,分别来自加拿大女王大学(Queen’s University) 4人,加拿大渥太华大学(University of Ottawa) 2人,加拿大圭尔夫大学(University of Guelph) 1人,加拿大滑铁卢大学(University of Waterloo)1人,加拿大滑铁卢大学(University of Waterloo)1人。中国学生23人,分别来自西南大学(Southwest University) 8人,北京师范大学(7人,其中5人参加半程),同济大学(7人,全部参加半程),复旦大学(1人,参加半程)。我们做出这样的安排是基于:1)5月在中国展开野外课程将不会遇到以往8月我们遭受过的极端高温天气;2)5月的往返机票更为优惠,也为学生节省了参与课程的成本。这样的时间安排也有不足之处,5月仍处于中国学生的春季学期的中期,同济的学生也因而只参加了课程的下半程。尽管如此,本次课程依旧取得了圆满成功。

们的课程首次邀请了四位来自加拿大的教授:王宇翔教授,Steve Lougheed教授(女王大学生物站站长),Brian Cumming教授(女王大学环境科学院院长)和Dan Lefebvre教授。本次课程的得力助教由来自女王大学的博士生屈铭志。同时,我们也得到了许多来自中国大学和机构的大力支持,包括Kat Stewart教授(毕业于女王大学,现就职于同济大学),罗亦平教授(西南大学生物系教授,他曾在女王大学进行过为期一年的博后工作),汪小凡教授(武汉大学教授,北师大校友)和任文伟教授(就职于WWF上海和同济大学)。因而本次课程教授和学生的比例相当高,给课堂讨论和野外实习都提供了前所未有的机会。


本次课程的最后部分在上海进行。在崇明岛我们参观了东滩国家自然保护区,并进行了观鸟活动,学生们因此认识到了东滩湿地的重要之处。同时我们再次造访了当地一家专门为上海高档餐馆供应原料的农场—和协农场。这个以生态理论为原则指导经营的有机农场的产出包括甲鱼,牛蛙,小龙虾和黑米稻等重要经济农产品。在农场饱餐一顿之后我们也有幸与Mr. Christopher Shallis先生对绿色生态有机农业在中国的快速发展进行了讨论。在上海接下来的时间里,我们考察了上海水产市场,在这个巨大的集市里,我们发现了水产动物的高度多样性(产自格陵兰岛,澳大利亚,北美,阿根廷和中国等),为了加深学生们对水产养殖产业发展的理解,我们还参观了上海东海水产研究所,其博物馆所藏众多的海洋生物标本以及水产养殖和海洋捕捞的精致模型展示,都给我们留下了深刻的印象。在行程的最后,我们拜访WWF上海分部,了解了他们的主要工作和项目,并在任文伟教授的带领下参观了上海科学节能展示馆,学生们由此学习到了最新的节能减排技术和理念以及中国希望籍此降低其对不可再生能源需求的不孜追求。


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