New UBC Okanagan research centre focuses on species at risk

A new centre for the study of species at risk and threatened habitats opens at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna tomorrow, March 7.

With lab facilities located on the newly constructed third floor of the Sciences building, the Species at Risk and Habitat Studies (SARAHS) Centre will enable researchers to identify and examine forces crucial to the success of species listed as currently at risk. These forces include genetic, environmental and physiological factors that impact plant and animal life in B.C.

“This Centre is an exciting and powerful new resource in the search for ways to preserve our at-risk species and natural habitats,” says B.C. Minister of Advanced Education Murray Coell. “Its innovative multi-disciplinary approach to research will contribute significantly to the development of knowledge in our province.”

This week’s opening of the SARAHS Centre is the culmination of a lot of planning. “We have been working on this for three years. Now we have the facility, the people, and partners,” says SARAHS Centre Director Dr. Daniel Durall. Among those partnerships is a new cooperative agreement between UBC Okanagan and the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program. That agreement will be signed during the Centre’s opening ceremony Tuesday.

The SARAHS Centre is very much about people and projects, says Dr. Karen Hodges, Canada Research Chair in conservation biology at UBC Okanagan. “It comprises a group of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students undertaking research in the Okanagan, in other parts of B.C. and internationally, to better understand species and ecosystems.”

The SARAHS Centre is funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, vendors, the community and the private sector. Founded upon a highly interdisciplinary research team, the Centre has expertise in areas ranging from genetics and physiology through climate change to statistics and mathematical modeling.

This wide-ranging expertise enables SARAHS researchers to provide a comprehensive picture of the scientific issues surrounding species at risk. The ultimate aim is to gather the knowledge necessary to inform management plans and land use policies.

Official Opening of the SARAHS Centre takes place from 3:30 to 4 p.m., March 7, on the third floor of the Science building at UBC Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna.

This event is one of many taking place from March 4 to 11 during UBC Okanagan’s Celebrate Research Week.

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