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Biological Sciences
Head: J.E. Anderson
Campus Address/General Office: 212 Biological Sciences Building
Telephone: (204) 474 9245
Fax: (204) 474 7604
Email Address: 

janders@cc.umanitoba.ca 

Website: 

Biological Sciences

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

The department offers graduate training leading to Master of Science (M.Sc.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in a broad range of biological disciplines in both field and laboratory research. Programs in the biological sciences represent a unique concentration of expertise in whole-organisms, and a wide range of research in ecological, environmental, evolutionary, physiological, cellular and molecular sciences.

Expertise in the major plant, animal, and fungal groups in grassland and boreal forest ecosystems are represented in the department: cell and developmental biology, biotechnology, molecular biology and genetics, ecology and conservation biology, vascular and nonvascular plants, fungal and algal biology, physiology, systematics, evolutionary and coevolutionary biology, animal modelling, aquatic biology and aquatic organisms, fisheries, behavioural ecology, parasitology, and muscle biology.

Graduates are equipped to embark on a career in botany, zoology and related fields, including environmental science, natural resource management, agriculture and forestry, fisheries and wildlife management, and biomedical sciences. Former students are successfully employed in research, teaching or administrative positions in academic, industrial or governmental settings, as biological consultants and in biomedical agencies in Canada and around the world.

The department is able to foster an informal atmosphere with good interaction between faculty and graduate students. Students are often successful in Commonwealth, NSERC, CIHR, Faculty of Science, and University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship and Scholarship competitions.

Fields of Research

Ecology, Evolution and Fisheries:

Fleet dynamics, fisheries management, fish population dynamics, interaction between behaviour and population processes; emphasis on quantitative analysis, mathematical and simulation modelling based upon historical data and field work when appropriate.

Wetland foodweb structure and dynamics, invertebrate grazer-algal interactions; Cladocera ecology, palaeoecology of communities in the littoral zone of lakes, systematics and evolution.

Collaborative multi-species, multi-scale ecosystem examination of search strategies of seabirds for fish; spawning habitat selection by a keystone forage fish.

Molecular systematics, biogeography, and conservation genetics of fish (particularly lampreys and salmonids) and other aquatic organisms (microsporean parasites and dreissenid mussels).

Circumpolar Aboriginal peoples and their domestic economies, hunting and trapping, land use, land claims, and impacts of northern development on their lifestyles.

Evolution of hemoglobin oxygen affinity in mammals in relation to exploitation of aquatic, northern, and subterranean habitats; molecular evolution of beta-globin gene cluster in eutherian mammals; mammalian molecular phylogenetics.

Ecosystem structure and function in freshwater wetlands: ecophysiology and ecotoxicology of benthic and planktonic algae, and aquatic macrophytes; paleolimnology.

Fungal ecology in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems: saprotrophs and nutrient release, fungi in forest ecosystems.

Economic botany: native plant products and special (non-timber) forest products, and the role of fungal secondary compounds in nature.

Conservation ecology: habitat fragmentation, plant dispersal, effects of disturbance on biodiversity, ecological knowledge and ecosystem management, restoration of plant communities.

Evolutionary biology of plants and fungi: pollination biology, plant-plant interactions and plant-fungal interactions, co-evolution, phylogeny and molecular evolution.

Systematics: molecular, morphological, and phytogeographic studies of flowering plants, conifers, ferns and allies, bryophytes, algae, and fungi.

Applied and theoretical population and community ecology of forest and grassland ecosystems: mathematical and statistical ecology, ecological modelling.

Behavioural Ecology:

Comparative and experimental studies addressing factors that contribute to the evolution and maintenance of sociality, and the roles that communication and cognitive abilities play in social species (particularly ground-dwelling squirrels and slave-making ants).

Behavioural and evolutionary interactions between the parasitic cowbirds and their passerine hosts. Cowbird selection of host nests; host quality; nest defencedefense; host tolerance of parasitism; nest placement; consequences of parasitism.

Physiology:

Metabolic, thermal and respiratory physiology of moles and shrews.

Thermal biology, diving physiology and bioenergetics of northern semiaquatic mammals, mainly muskrat and beaver; physiological problems encountered during swimming and diving in cold water; seasonal bioenergetics and nutritional studies of these species.

Endocrine regulation of salt and water balance in fish, particularly the physiological actions of the rennin-angiotensin system, natriuretic peptides and neurohypophysial peptides on cardiovascular, renal and extra-renal function.

Stress physiology in forest ecosystems: plant adaptation to salts, pollutants and anthropogenic disturbance (mining, forestry).

Neurophysiology; regulation of ion channel proteins and electrical activity in neurons of the mammalian central nervous system; neurobiological control of food intake.

Transport physiology; mechanisms of osmoregulatory NaCl transports (salt and water balance) and nitrogen excretion in invertebrates and lower vertebrates; physiologic and molecular responses to ammonia stress.

Parasitology:

Comparative immunology of fish and mammals, particularly mucosal immunity. Host-parasite interactions, including transmission of fish parasites and the role of host immune responses in protection and regulation of parasite populations.

Host-parasite relationships of metazoan parasites of invertebrates. Life history strategies of free-living triclad flatworms. Zoogeography and community ecology of Unionidae.

Cell and Developmental Biology:

Oogenesis, early development and cell differentiation in invertebrates. Origin and fate of germ cells. Cellular mechanisms that regulate oogenesis and the establishment of polarity.

The roles of the cytoskeleton, bioelectrical properties and ions in oogenesis and development using an array of microscopical and electrophysiological techniques.

Early development in zebrafish, specifically the genes and gene interactions involved in early developmental decision-making processes. Genetic control of vertebrate (mainly zebrafish) embryonic development. Gap junction mediated intercellular communication: structure and post-translational modifications of the constituent connexin proteins, the role of specific connexins in the embryonic development of zebrafish, control of connexin gene expression.

Cellular mechanisms directing the formation of tissues and organs, using molecular, cellular, morphological and physiological techniques.

Molecular genetic control of reproduction in insects, with emphasis on mosquitoes; molecular basis of sex determination and sexual differentiation in invertebrates.

Role of RNA interference and microRNAs in regulating gene expression and development. Role of transposable elements as sources of genetic variation and mutation.

Cellular mechanisms directing the normal and pathological physiology of muscular dystrophy and age-related atrophy, muscle satellite cell activation, and impact of disease and regeneration on tissue and animal structure and function including testing of potential treatment modalities, using molecular, cellular, biochemical, morphological, and functional assays.

Plant biotechnology: applied bioremediation, genetic signaling and development, molecular techniques and ecology, plant structural imaging and analysis, proteomics, systematics and genomics, ultrastructural microscopy and microtechniques.

Developmental anatomy and cytology of plant reproductive systems: cytochemistry and ultrastructure

Research facilities

The Department has facilities in the Buller Building, the Duff Roblin Building, and a new "Biological Sciences Building" which was the former Pharmacy Building, on the Fort Garry Campus including an extensive, modern, nationally and internationally recognized herbarium collection (WIN) consisting of a vascular plant collection and a cryptogamic collection. The Department also has special facilities for animal sciences research including a large animal colony for small terrestrial and aquatic animals. Both animal housing and plant growth facilities are operated by trained technical staff with experience and expertise to support research and teaching.

Facilities include greenhouses and growth chambers; a scanning-transmission electron microscope; plant tissue, fungal and algal culturing facilities; research areas fully equipped for study of plant development, ecophysiology and plant interactions; modern instrumentation for molecular, genetics and evolutionary biology studies; interference, fluorescence and transmission electron microscopes; tissue culture; cellular biology investigations; patch-clamping facilities; digital image analysis equipment; quantitative biology; and ecological analysis computerized facilities.

Field station facilities are provided at the Delta Marsh Field Station which provides year-round research facilities and accommodation for biological research in the 17,000 hectare Delta Marsh on the southern shore of Lake Manitoba. Other field station facilities are available to faculty members and their graduate students at Star Lake (Whiteshell Provincial Park), the Experimental Lakes Area (NW Ontario) and the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. The location of the facilities permits work on a variety of prairie, marsh and woodland habitats and on a wide spectrum of inland lakes and rivers, as well as Arctic tundra and marine habitat along the coast of Hudson Bay. The University Field Station, fully equipped with living accommodations and laboratory space, is 80 km away at Delta Marsh on the south shore of Lake Manitoba. Additional field studies are conducted from the Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora, Ontario, in conjunction with the Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg. Broad collaborations with other scientists within and external to the University of Manitoba further enrich the access to training facilities for faculty and graduate students.

M.Sc. Biological Sciences

Admission

Admission requirements are those of the Faculty of Graduate Studies found in the Graduate Studies Regulations Section of this Calendar. If a student applies with a three-year general B.Sc. degree or equivalent, a pre-Master’s program must be taken which will be individually prescribed. Students with a four-year major or honours degree apply for direct entry into the M.Sc. program. If a student applies with a three-year general B.Sc. degree or equivalent, additional courses and/or a pre-Master’s program must be taken to be equivalent to the required four-year degree. Application Deadlines: Applications must be received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies by the following dates.

Session Start Date Canadian/US International Regular September June 1 March 1Winter January October 1 July 1Spring May February 1 November 1Summer July April 1 January 1

Program Requirements

Minimum program requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies are found in the Graduate Studies Regulations Section of this Calendar. The program requires completion of a research thesis and course work consisting of a minimum of one core course and one additional BIOL 7000 course.  Study and research will extend to a minimum of twelve months. All students must submit a research-based thesis and defend it orally. Please see the department website for supplementary regulations for each of the former departments and for those of the new department the Department of Biological Sciences.

Second language reading requirement: none

Expected time to graduate: two years

Ph.D. Biological Sciences

Admission

Admission requirements are those of the Faculty of Graduate Studies found in the Graduate Studies Regulations Section of this Calendar. Candidates normally have completed a M.Sc. degree before entering the Ph.D. program; however under certain circumstances transfer from a M.Sc. to Ph.D. program and entry into the Ph.D. without a M.Sc. is possible. Individual qualifications other than these will be considered.

Applications must be received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies by the following dates:

Session Start Date Canadian/US International Regular September June 1 March 1Winter January October 1 July 1Spring May February 1 November 1Summer July April 1 January 1

Program Requirements

Program requirements are those of the Faculty of Graduate Studies found in the Graduate Studies Regulations Section of this Calendar. Please see the department website for supplementary regulations for each of the former departments and for those of the new departmentDepartment of Biological Sciences.

Second language requirement: none

Expected time to graduation: three four years

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