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Campus Life  

UBCO awards support students throughout the summer

Students gain valuable experience partnering with professors in undergraduate research

Food security, senior fall prevention and online consumer behaviour are among areas of research being investigated through the summer by seven undergraduates from UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Management.

The recipients, who range from first- to fourth-year students, are receiving supports through one of four Management Undergraduate Research Awards (MURA), two International Undergraduate Research Awards (IURA) and a Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada (RSEDIC) award. The awards support undergraduate students in gaining exceptional learning experiences in hands-on research with faculty supervisors. The awards are also providing financial and academic security to the recipients at a time when COVID-19 has affected the ability of many students to find in summer jobs.

“We are proud to be able to offer our undergraduate students these opportunities to engage more deeply with their studies and gain valuable new research skills,” says Roger Sugden, dean of the Faculty of Management. “The experiences these students will gain over the coming months will serve them well in their future, in their academic studies and beyond.”

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working on a literature review about fall prevention among seniors to help increase adherence to prevention protocols.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working on a literature review about fall prevention among seniors to help increase adherence to prevention protocols.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam, student in the Faculty of Management, says her MURA meant she could remain in the Okanagan and continue her learning through the summer. “Lots of my friends couldn't find jobs over the summer,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to be involved in this project.”

Santhagunam is working with Jennifer Davis, assistant professor in the Faculty of Management, on research into how to better prevent falls among seniors and increase adherence to prevention protocols. In addition, she is also assisting Davis on research into the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on tenured and tenure-track research faculty across Canada.

“Every time I work with students, I learn so much from all of the skill and talent that they bring to the table, and from their life perspectives as well,” says Davis. “It's been very enriching for me to work with Nithi and to learn from her viewpoints and the experience she’s had in her life and her studies. It’s exciting to see students who are working to develop some interests and passions in areas that, maybe, they hadn't anticipated.”

While all award recipients are conducting research virtually, the students and researchers remain connected through video conferences, email, and phone calls. The students also take part in weekly workshops, team meetings and peer discussions.

“It feels like I’m getting paid to learn,” says Mohana Rambe, whose RSEDIC award is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm, supervised by Eric Li, associate professor in the Faculty of Management. “I'm getting back much more than what I'm giving.”

Faculty of Management undergraduate research projects taking place this summer

Patrick Feng is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to analyze how touchscreens affect consumers' purchasing decisions. His project is supported by an IURA.

Shiven Vinod Khera is working with Associate Professor Eric Li on analyzing how non-metropolitan and rural regions can have greater health equity and food security during disruptive events, such as COVID-19, wildfires and flooding. This project is being supported by a MURA.

Mohana Rambe is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm.

Mohana Rambe is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm.

Mohana Rambe is working with Associate Professor Eric Li and Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari on implementing and assessing a new inventory management system with the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen's Acres Community Farm. This project is supported by the RSEDIC.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working with Assistant Professor Jennifer Davis on a comprehensive literature review on fall prevention among seniors to increase adherence to prevention protocols. This project is supported by a MURA.

Vinil Sood is working with Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari and Associate Professor Eric Li to systematically review food bank operations to explore food inventory management methodologies and food waste management. This project is supported by a MURA.

Gabriel Tan is working with Assistant Professor David Walker to investigate whether the audio characteristics of customer voices in service interactions predict that the customer will mistreat the employee later in the interaction. This project is supported by an IURA.

Beyond Zhao is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to investigate how using touchscreen devices versus non-touchscreen devices influences consumers’ judgment and decision making. This project is supported by a MURA.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



Free COVID-19 mental health service enters new phase in response to public need

Lesley Lutes is a professor of psychology and director of clinical training at UBC Okanagan, as well as director of public advocacy for the BC Psychological Association (BCPA).

Lesley Lutes is a professor of psychology and director of clinical training at UBC Okanagan, as well as director of public advocacy for the BC Psychological Association (BCPA).

Successful BC psychological first-aid program to be replaced with two online options

It was nearing the end of March—and Lesley Lutes recalls noticing a shift in attitudes from those who thought the COVID-19 outbreak would be short-lived.

Lutes, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at UBC Okanagan, as well as director of public advocacy for the BC Psychological Association (BCPA), anticipated the coronavirus—and its mental health implications—would be here for an extended period of time, motivating her to begin work recruiting fellow psychologists to offer free teletherapy services to front-line and essential workers.

Ultimately recruiting more than 250 psychologists, Lutes was able to expand the service in April to all British Columbians—completely free of charge.

Each caller shared their COVID-19 story with a registered psychologist, and according to Lutes, over two-thirds of callers have been classified as experiencing moderate levels of distress.

“We’ve received calls ranging from general anxiety to acute homicide and domestic abuse issues, suicide risks and front-line workers who took the virus home to family members,” she says.

“What concerns me most is the high number of callers, mostly from the general population, in moderate distress. Without proper access to evidence-based resources, prevention and intervention services along with follow-up, these individuals may experience a further decline in their mental health.”

This is consistent with what Lutes and colleagues found in a review paper currently in Psynopsis, Canada’s Psychology Magazine, which looked at the mental health impacts and evidence-based solutions to address the long-term implications of COVID-19.

“After reviewing the data, both from the teletherapy service and the psychological impacts and implications globally, it’s clear that people are in need of the next step in care,” says Lutes. “The telephone-based service was the first step, but many folks are now in need of skills for psychological recovery or intervention.”

This extreme need for continued mental health support has driven Lutes to transition the temporary teletherapy line—ceasing operations on July 31—into two online solutions.

Thanks to private donor funding, university support and partnerships with BCPA, Vancouver Coastal Health and Kelty’s Key, a virtual walk-in well-being clinic and an email-assisted online therapy program are now being offered.

“These partnerships enable us to offer these supports for free and deliver them in a virtual, distance-learning format, making them accessible to all British Columbians regardless of income or postal code,” says Lutes.

UBCO’s walk-in well-being clinic provides patients with a 30-minute consultation via web or phone. The sessions will be conducted by a doctoral student in clinical psychology and supervised by a registered psychologist. Sessions are aimed at providing support, resources and, if needed, referral for short-term psychological recovery sessions.

Kelty’s Key is an evidence-based online therapy program created by psychologists at Vancouver Coastal Health. It is also run by graduate students and overseen by registered psychologists, uses the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, and focuses on learning new skills and developing effective coping strategies.

“Virtual support creates instant equity, access and care—and creates a lifeline for those unable to afford psychological services. At the same time, we are training the next generation of registered psychologists.”

Lutes, however, is the first to acknowledge that this is temporary, and given its limited capacity can only provide care to a fraction of those in need—prompting her to continue working with all levels of government and stakeholders to find longer-term solutions.

“The United Nations has warned that a mental health crisis is looming—and that’s completely understandable,” she says.

“COVID-19 has cost us family members, livelihoods, social interactions and much more. If we truly want to rebound from these catastrophic losses—investing in mental health is how we get there.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO researchers create liquid-repelling substance that works on all surfaces

UBCO master's student Behrooz Khatir measures liquid to be applied to an omniphobic film during testing inside the OPERA lab at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.

UBCO master's student Behrooz Khatir measures liquid to be applied to an omniphobic film during testing inside the OPERA lab at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.

New coating can eliminate complex disinfectant procedures for protective face shields

Acting like an invisible force field, a new liquid coating being developed by UBC Okanagan researchers may provide an extra layer of protection for front-line workers.

Researchers at the Okanagan Polymer Engineering Research and Applications (OPERA) Lab have developed a coating that repels nearly all substances off a surface. And that new coating will make cleaning personal protective equipment a little bit easier for front-line health care workers, explains Kevin Golovin, an assistant professor at UBCO’s School of Engineering and director at OPERA.

Surfaces that can repel a broad range of liquids are called omniphobic, explains UBCO master's student and lead author of the study Behrooz Khatir. Working in Golovin’s lab, Khatir has created a spray-on solution that can make any surface, including a face shield, omniphobic.

“Omniphobic—all-liquid repellent—films can repel a broad range of liquids, but the applicability of these coatings has always been limited to silicon wafers or smooth glass,” says Khatir. “This new formulation can coat and protect just about any surface, including metals, paper, ceramics and even plastics.”

The two-layer coating involves placing an ultra-smooth silica layer on a surface and then functionalizing this layer with a highly-reactive silicone to effectively block all kinds of liquids from sticking on the surface, explains Golovin.

Not only does the coating repel countless substances, but even under harsh exposures like UV light, acids and high temperatures, the coating maintains its resistance qualities. And Golovin notes, if the coating does become damaged it can be easily and repeatedly repaired, fully restoring the omniphobic properties to their initial state.

Golovin recently received COVID-19 funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to optimize the coating for health care face shields so they stay clean, in partnership with Kelowna-based survivability products manufacturer PRE Labs Inc.

“This technology has many applications, but we are currently focused on providing a solution that will keep our nurses and doctors safe and effective,” says Golovin. “This new coating will prevent droplets or microbes from sticking to a face shield. This makes disinfecting face shields feasible just with water rather than requiring complex disinfectant procedures.”

The original research was recently published in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces journal, with funding support from NSERC.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO researchers team up with industry partner to clear the air

New device aims to isolate and remove droplets and airborne viruses

UBC Okanagan researchers are collaborating with Kelowna-based Care Health Meditech to develop a new device that isolates and eliminates airborne droplets and germs associated with COVID-19 and other illnesses.

With operating principles similar to a vacuum hood, the Airborne Infection Isolation and Removal (AIIR) device is initially targeted at the dental industry to improve the safety of both staff and patients. Many dental procedures generate aerosols, or small droplets of saliva and blood, that are ejected into the air. These aerosols float in the room and can contain dangerous particles that contain viruses like SARS-COV2, influenza, tuberculosis, HPV and aerosolized mercury, explains Care Health Meditech Managing Partner Stephen Munro.

“To aid in the development of AIIR, we turned to UBC researchers for their expertise in multiphase flows and computational fluid dynamics which will help evolve the design ensuring its effectiveness,” Munro says.

Transmission of the COVID-19 virus is thought to occur through breathing in respiratory droplets, touching contaminated surfaces or inhaling particles in the air. According to Munro, the key to controlling the transmission is to isolate and eliminate COVID-19 contaminated air and droplets, particularly aerosols.

While the AIIR device is currently being used by some dentists, UBCO researchers are now looking at ways to improve the design through computational fluid dynamics simulation and specific testing in Associate Professor Sunny Li’s Thermal Management and Multiphase Flows lab.

“Our team is looking at the device’s size and geometry in connection with its airflow dynamics and the dynamics of droplets and particles to make it more accurate and efficient,” says Li, who teaches multiphase flows and is one of the lead researchers on the project.

Li is working with Assistant Professors Joshua Brinkerhoff and Sina Kheirkhah from the School of Engineering, and Associate Professor Jonathan Little from the School of Health and Exercise Sciences to provide design modifications and recommendations.

During testing, dental procedures will be mimicked in the lab with a dental mannequin connected to a breathing simulator. Particle Imaging Velocimetry and High-speed Shadow Photography Imaging will be used to visualize airflow and track the motion of all droplets. Droplet motion and trajectory can vary depending on the droplet size and local airflow, explains Li.

While work is being done in the labs to optimize and improve the device for frontline acute healthcare settings, due to high demand Care Health Meditech’s initial AIIR device is already being delivered to dentists in both Canada and the USA.

“Although we are targeting the dental industry, there’s an opportunity to expand into other areas where the risk of airborne infection is high,” says Munro, adding his company has already developed in-house manufacturing capabilities for the device.

“The AIIR has the potential to reduce the risk of patients and dentists being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and will allow dentistry to return to near-normal procedures,” says Munro. “This is significant for Canada and the world as it reduces the need for production and the purchase of personal protection equipment (PPE) and in a few years we aim to have the potential to reduce the need for PPE and N95 respirators for routine procedures in hospitals, doctor’s offices and care facilities.”

The research is funded by a Mitacs Accelerate Grant.

UBC Associate Professor Sunny Li, right, discusses adaptations to the Airborne Infection Isolation and Removal system, with his doctoral student Mojtaba Zabihi and Care Health Meditech Managing Partner Stephen Munro, centre.

UBC Associate Professor Sunny Li, right, discusses adaptations to the Airborne Infection Isolation and Removal system, with his doctoral student Mojtaba Zabihi and Care Health Meditech Managing Partner Stephen Munro, centre.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



Research collaborations tackle challenges faced by rural BC residents

UBCO associate professor Nelly Oelke is one of the researchers receiving funding from the interior university research coalition for her work in mental health resilience in rural communities

Interior university research coalition funds research to improve the lives of those living outside large urban centres

The challenges facing rural and remote communities do not always make front-page news, but this lack of attention does not make them less important, especially for those who live there.

Supported by the Interior University Research Coalition’s (IURC) Regional/Rural/Remote Communities (R3C) Collaborative Research Grant, three Interior university research teams will address the complex problems faced by British Columbians who live outside large metropolitan areas. The funded projects grapple with disparate topics such as aging, water treatment and mental-health resiliency in the face of climate change.

“Rural and remote communities in non-metropolitan areas are experiencing economic, social and environmental changes that are profound and complex,” says Janice Larsen, IURC director.

“It is vital to understand and support the healthy and stable development of our society, our economy and our environment,” she adds.

Each of these three research teams receives $40,000 to complete their projects.

TRU associate professor Wendy Hulko, joined by UBCO’s Kathy Rush and UNBC’s Sarah De Leeuw, leads a project investigating the results of the Interior Health’s repositioning of health-care services for seniors. The intent of repositioning services was to enable older adults to live at home longer, reduce hospital admissions and delay residential care.

One of the outcomes of Interior Health’s service restructure was the creation of health and wellness centres in Kamloops and Kelowna. The centres provide primary health care for older adults and were designed to create better access to health services for vulnerable populations. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly play a role in the study, says Hulko.

“One of the goals of these wellness centres was to get people connected to care, but we will have to find out how those services have been impacted by the pandemic and how the pandemic is impacting the ability of older adults to age in place,” she explains.

UNBC Environmental Engineering professor Jianbing Li leads research to develop an effective, low-cost, portable water-treatment system for remote and rural communities. Due to a lack of resources, rural communities have long faced challenges in accessing potable water, and consumption of untreated water poses health risks. Joined by Rehan Sadiq and Kasun Hewage, professors in UBCO’s School of Engineering, the research team aims to develop a household water-treatment system that would remove common contaminants from rural water sources. By the project’s end, a prototype of the water treatment system would be demonstrated in the community.

“Having reliable access to a safe drinking water supply is essential for the healthy development of rural, regional and remote communities,” says Li. “Our interdisciplinary research team is working toward discovering a water treatment solution, training graduate students and developing meaningful partnerships with relevant communities in British Columbia.”

UBCO associate professor Nelly Oelke leads a project that aims to foster resilience in rural and remote communities by developing a greater understanding of the mental-health impacts of climate-change events.

“Climate-change events can result in extreme physical and psychological trauma for vulnerable populations living in rural and remote communities,” says Oelke. “PTSD, depression, anxiety, increased substance use and suicidality are all found to increase during and after problematic flooding, wildfires and drought, which are becoming more and more common in BC and around the world.”

She adds that many of the approaches used to address mental health relating to natural disasters are also used in pandemics and the evidence-based solutions they develop will provide increased support to Indigenous peoples, people living in poverty, children and first responders.

The research takes place in the Similkameen region of BC’s Southern Interior, including Keremeos, Hedley and Princeton, in addition to Ashcroft in the Thompson-Okanagan region and Burns Lake in Northern BC. Collaborators on this project include Sue Pollock (interim chief medical health officer at Interior Health), UNBC’s Davina Banner, TRU’s Bonnie Fournier and UBCO’s Lauren Airth and Carolyn Szostak. One outcome of this project is the development of community-based action plans for mental-health support, as research shows rural communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

“This is a very exciting project and allows me to build upon the relationships I have already developed in Ashcroft, while also allowing me to work alongside two really fantastic researchers,” says Fournier. “The R3C program is innovative and unique, and I haven’t seen anything like it across Canada.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



UBCO kindness researcher challenges the notion of mean teens

Associate Professor John-Tyler Binfet's new research seeks to disrupt that notion by showing how adolescents demonstrate kindness.

Associate Professor John-Tyler Binfet's new research seeks to disrupt that notion by showing how adolescents demonstrate kindness.

New research shows adolescents are kinder than we think

A UBC Okanagan researcher is hoping to flip the switch on the pre-convinced stereotype that teens are mean.

Associate Professor John-Tyler Binfet, a researcher in the School of Education, says teenagers often receive a negative reputation, sometimes showcased in mainstream media reports of bullying, cyber harassment or schoolyard battles.

Binfet’s new research seeks to disrupt that notion by showing how adolescents demonstrate kindness.

“There’s been a shift in schools in recent years to move away from anti-bullying initiatives to efforts that embrace and promote pro-social behaviour,” says Binfet. “There is an emphasis on kindness throughout school curriculum, but little is known about how youth actually enact kindness.”

Binfet and his research team surveyed 191 Grade 9 Okanagan Valley students to determine the extent they see themselves as kind in online and face-to-face interactions. The students were then asked to plan and complete five kind acts for one week.

In total, the students accomplished 943 acts of kindness, with 94 per cent of the participants completing three or more of their assigned acts. The kind acts ranged from helping with chores, being respectful, complimenting or encouraging others and giving away items like pencils or money for the vending machine.

“When encouraged to be kind, they surpassed expectations. It was interesting to see how adolescents support others with nuanced ways of helping that included helping generally, physically, emotionally and with household chores,” says Binfet. “As educators and parents model kindness or provide examples of kindness, showcasing examples of subtle acts might make being kind easier for adolescents to accomplish.”

The majority of the participants enacted kindness to people they know, most frequently to family, friends and other students. As the bulk of the kind acts took place at the school, the findings show positive effects for school climate, student-to-student relationships and student behaviour.

Following the one-week challenge, participants were interviewed once again to see how their perception of their own kindness had changed. The findings showed a significant increase in their self-ratings of face-to-face and online kindness.

“This has implications for school-based initiatives seeking to encourage kindness among students who may say, ‘but I’m already kind’,” says Binfet. “The findings suggest that by participating in a short kindness activity, students’ perceptions of themselves as kind may be boosted.”

For years, Binfet’s research has focused on counterbalancing the bullying literature to elevate the discussion of kindness. Through this latest research, his goal is to challenge the negative stereotypes of teens.

“I think adolescents can be misperceived, especially in schools. By understanding how they show kindness, parents, educators and researchers can gain insight as to how they actualize pro-social behaviour,” says Binfet.  “We can find ways to best structure opportunities for youth to be kind to help foster their development.”

The study was published in the Canadian Journal of School Psychology.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca



OC grad seeks to inspire those around him



Grizzlies change habits to coexist with people—but is it enough?

Photo of a grizzly bear

UBC study examined 40 years of data following the fate of 2,500 grizzly bears.

Bears living near people rely on ‘immigrants’ and nocturnal behaviour to sustain populations

Researchers have determined that bear populations near people need two things to survive—adaptive behaviour to become nocturnal and immigrant bears moving into their region.

A study published this week looks at 40 years of data following the fate of more than 2,500 grizzly bears in BC. Researchers learned that bear populations living near people depend on other bears ‘immigrating’ from adjacent wilderness areas to sustain population numbers. And the bears need to change their behaviour, becoming nocturnal, to avoid conflict with humans.

Unfortunately, this adaptation takes time and many bears die before they learn to live with people, says study author Clayton Lamb, a Liber Ero post-doctoral fellow at UBC Okanagan’s campus.

“Human coexistence with large carnivores poses one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time,” says Lamb. “Bears that live near people are actively engaging in nocturnal behaviour to increase their own survival and reduce conflicts with people, but this is often not enough to sustain the population. These populations rely on a ‘lifeline’ of immigrants from nearby areas with low human impact.”

Lamb, who conducted some of this research while a doctoral student at the University of Alberta, works with Adam Ford, an assistant professor in biology at UBCO and principal investigator in the Wildlife Restoration Ecology (WiRE) lab. Researchers in the WiRE lab bridge the gap between applied and theoretical science to support new ideas in ecology and decision making. Ways to better coexist with wildlife is a key contribution from WiRE researchers.

While carnivores pose a real and perceived threat to people and property, Ford says, humans are genuinely fascinated by them.

“This creates a profound tension in conservation,” Ford adds. “How can people and carnivores coexist?”

Ford says when coexistence does occur, success is often attributed to the role of people acting to reduce human-caused mortality. However, evidence suggests the bears themselves also play a role.

“Bears in human-dominated areas increased their nocturnal behaviour by two to three per cent past their third year of age and this led to a two to three per cent increase in survival rates each year,” Ford says. “In wilderness areas we detected no significant age-related shift in bear nocturnality, suggesting that humans are inducing the bears to change their habits.”

Lamb says social tolerance for carnivores along with creative solutions for coexistence are on the upswing. Reducing human influence at night can restore carnivore movement and wildlife highway crossings can increase carnivore survival and connectivity without interfering with human transportation.

However, the current mortality rates are far too great to maintain existing bear populations without immigration. There’s a lot of dead bears, Lamb says, and survival is quite low for bears living near people, especially if they are young.

“There are two outcomes for young animals in landscapes of coexistence—adapt to people by becoming more nocturnal or die because of people,” he says. “Although it sounds bleak, grizzly bear populations are currently sustaining themselves near people in many places, and even increasing. Key examples include range expansions in southwest Alberta and the eastern Okanagan near Big White. But if we were to double the human population in BC or halve the wilderness areas, this balancing act of populations sustaining themselves with wilderness immigrants might collapse.”

The study, funded by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia, was published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science journal.

Read more about WiRE Lab research including a mule deer project in BC’s Southern Interior and studies into BC’s wolf populations.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca







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