Dr. John Reynolds joins the Royal Society of Canada

SFU professor discusses his ongoing work in conservation biology

PHOTO: SFU Communications & Marketing / Flickr

Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer

SFU biology professor, Dr. John Reynolds has been inducted into the Royal Society of Canada which honours researchers for their achievements in their respective fields. 

“It’s a nice recognition when I think of some wonderful Canadian scientists who are a part of it” said Dr. Reynolds. “It’s nice to join them in that way.” 

One of his many involvements in conservation biology is as chair on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which is “a federally appointed body of scientists from across the country who are responsible for assessing the status of the species of plants and animals for potential protection under our federal species at risk act.”

Dr. Reynolds is currently leading two major research projects, the first focusing on life histories and extinction risks. The project will attempt “to understand what makes some species vulnerable to extinction and not others.” He said that in some cases, such as habitat destruction, it’s clear why certain species would be more prone to extinction. However, for other species, “it’s not so obvious.” Dr. Reynolds added, “In fisheries, for example, some species can sustain heavy fishing and some can’t. And so I’m interested in the biology that underpins the response of species to the pressures that humans are putting on them.”

Dr. Reynolds is also leading a salmon conservation project, which looks at salmon and their effects on the ecosystem around them. “Salmon are connected to so many other components of ecosystems. Lots of things eat them and when they spawn and die, their carcasses can help fertilize forests.” This study gave Dr. Reynolds the ability to go to any stream in the Central Coast region, and by looking at the plants on the streams and the forest, allowed him to predict how many salmon had come back from the ocean to the streams at the end of the season to spawn, based on the plant composition. 

When asked about choosing his field, Dr. Reynolds stated that “In every step of the way, I’ve just been doing the thing that I love. In a sense, I’d never really had a choice because my choice was made for me, by my passion for the outdoors.”