Dean's Statement on Anti-Racism
Racism has no place in the University or London community. Everyone in Western Science is appalled by news of violence directed against Black and Indigenous people, particularly in Canada. This intensifies our resolve to remove obstacles and systemic barriers to creating a community in our Faculty of Science in which we can all study Science in an atmosphere of mutual respect. As a Faculty of Science and as members of the London community, we condemn all racist acts, whether intended or arising from ignorance, and the power imbalances they reflect and perpetuate. Power imbalances and racial biases also exist in our own Faculty community.
Our resolve to improve must be matched with thoughtful action. I affirm Western Science's active role and support in Western's response to the Anti-Racism Working Group Report. Over the coming weeks, I commit to working within and outside our Faculty to identify issues from staff, faculty, and students. This process will be followed by planning and action within our Faculty of Science, informed and led by our community. We will, together, speak up and stand up for the changes needed.
Matt Davison, Faculty of Science Dean
- Ancient Arctic beavers were cutting down trees for food four million years ago, long before they started building dams, a new study shows. Scientists analysed bones of the extinct Dipoides beaver and plant fossils from Ellesmere Island in northern Canada to work out what the creatures ate. Isotopic evidence indicates a diet of woody and freshwater plants, suggesting this extinct semi-aquatic beaver cut wood for feeding purposes.
- They’ve recently made the discovery that sparrows show increased stress levels when exposed to more frequent and severe winter storms, leading researchers to believe that the finding could be troubling for other species dealing with frequent extreme weather events. “They’re a migratory bird that tries to escape winter storms, but winter storms are increasing,” said PhD student Andrea Boyer, one of the authors of the paper.
- Sparrows show increased stress when exposed to more numerous and more severe winter storms, says a Western study that tested the songbirds’ resilience to the effects of climate change. And where a canary in a coal mine once provided an early signal of danger to humans below ground, ‘sparrows in a snowstorm’ might be a harbinger of trouble for other species dealing with frequent extreme-weather events, the researchers say. The paper recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution was co-authored by PhD student Andrea Boyer and Scott MacDougall-Shackleton, director of the Advanced Facility for Avian Research (AFAR) at Western.
- By studying the wood-cutting behaviour of ancient beavers that once roamed the Canadian high Arctic, an international team of scientists has discovered that tree predation – feeding on trees and harvesting wood – evolved in these now-extinct rodents long before dam-building. This is an important discovery as woodcutting is a key behaviour for modern-day beavers’ capacity to modify, create and maintain habitats. This new research suggests that tree predation has existed for more than 20 million years, enough time that might have allowed beavers to affect the evolution of certain trees species.