Lab Canada

Biodiversity centre to combine scientific research and public awareness

Montreal, QC – The new Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre celebrated its official opening earlier this month. A partnership between the university and the Botanical Garden and Montréal Insectarium, two Espace pour la vie (Montréal Space for Life) institutions, the centre has cutting-edge scientific facilities for research into biodiversity, its preservation and its promotion. It will be home to invaluable natural collections and will promote knowledge transfer among local and international researchers. In addition, it will increase public awareness of the importance of biodiversity, key to the conservation of species and ecosystems.

The facility brings together major plant, insect and fungi collections, cutting-edge laboratories and dedicated researchers, along with an evolving digitized biodiversity network and a public space for museum exhibitions.

A number of precious collections – the Marie-Victorin Herbarium, the Ouellet-Robert entomological collection, the Insectarium’s entomological collection and the fungi collection of the Cercle des mycologues de Montréal – will be housed in premises designed to safeguard and showcase them at the same time. Bringing all these collections together will make it possible to share expertise and resources, as well as the opportunity to digitize phenomenal amounts of data.

The centre has a staff of 13 researchers from the university and the city of Montreal..

As headquarters of the Canadensys consortium, which co-ordinates the digitized networking of a large number of biological collections from many universities and botanical gardens across Canada, the centre will become a vital hub for knowledge transfer, in particular to support government decision making.

The centre is a joint project, with financial support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the government of Quebec, the Université de Montréal, the city of Montréal and private donors, at a total cost of $26 million. The centre was the brainchild of Anne Bruneau, a full professor with the UdeM Biological Sciences Department, director of the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV) and scientific director of the centre, and a team of researchers. Its buildings, an architectural concept by Provencher Roy + associés architectes, meet LEED Gold environmental certification standards.