Supporting ecological research in Beaubassin

The Beaubassin Research Centre and surrounding Tantramar Marsh dyke lands straddle the border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and are a unique and threatened landscape. An area of extensive wetlands, it is part of a major migratory pathway for ducks, songbirds and shorebirds. It is also one of the most historically important regions in North America.

First Nations, Acadians and English peoples were all founders of Beaubassin, contributing to the area and helping to shape Canada. The region was home to Beaubassin village, a prosperous Acadian settlement and trading centre. It was of strategic military importance in the Seven Years’ War. It was also the site of the Battle of Fort Cumberland in 1776, which saw a failed attempt by an American militia force to spread the revolution to the Maritimes.

Operated collaboratively by Acadia University, Ducks Unlimited Canada  and Irving Oil, the Beaubassin Research Centre officially opened in 2012 as a centre for coastal and wetland research, and historical discovery. It is a research space for researchers at Acadia University and other research organizations. It also provides hands-on experiential learning opportunities for students.

Acadia University has directed Research Support Funds to the Beaubassin Research Centre for several years. The support goes towards operating costs and facility maintenance.

Among the many researchers using the Beaubassin site is Acadia University Professor Ian Spooner. He is seeking to understand how natural changes, short-term climate change and human activity affect lakes in the region. Phil Taylor, Bird Studies Canada chair, also has a large program partially based in Beaubassin. The program examines how songbirds and shorebirds move across landscapes on multiple stages of their migratory journey. 

A number of Canada Research Chairs also use the Beaubassin site. Michael Stokesbury, Canada Research Chair in Ecology of Coastal Environments, is doing applied research with Ducks Unlimited Canada and Irving Oil on fishways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Mark Mallory, Canada Research Chair in Coastal Wetland Ecosystems, is basing a significant research program in Beaubassin to assess, map and predict the condition of coastal wetlands. His ecological research involves studying biodiversity, wetland health, the effects of pollution, and the recovery of wetlands from disturbance and alteration. 

The Research Support Fund supports a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, such as salaries for staff who provide administration support, training costs for workplace health and safety, maintenance of libraries and laboratories, and administrative costs associated with obtaining patents for inventions.