The Biodiversity Centre ensures the long-term conservation of a Quebec heritage comprising the collections of plants, insects and fungi of the Université de Montréal (Marie-Victorin Herbarium and Ouellet-Robert entomological collection), the city of Montréal (Insectarium collections) and the Cercle des mycologues de Montréal.
The Centre also enjoys privileged access to the living collections of the Montreal Botanical Garden. Gathering the collections under one roof facilitates the sharing of expertise and resources and simplifies management and digitisation.
One of the major challenges of the 21st century is to carry out the full inventory of biodiversity on Earth. We estimate that 1.75 million species have been identified and described to date, representing barely 20% of the estimated total. Millions of insects, algae, macroscopic fungi and plants remain to be identified. The percentage of micro-organisms that have been inventoried is much lower and we know next to nothing of viruses.
While Canadian biodiversity is being eroded and only a small fraction of it has been inventoried, it is alarming to realize that what knowledge has been collected to date is itself in peril. Several major biological collections across Canada are housed in conditions that threaten their physical integrity and prevent their continued growth. These collections contain an incalculable wealth of biological, geospatial, temporal, ecological and historical data on Canada’s biodiversity. The historical data in particular are valuable indicators of the changes taking place in ecosystems and the environment, the decline of natural populations, the spread of diseases and invasive species, the impacts of urban and industrial development and those of agricultural and forestry practices.
A major effort of inventorying species and studying their genetic make-up is necessary in order to determine what exists currently and what must be protected. The Montreal Biodiversity Centre participates in this effort, focussing on less well-know organisms such as insects and microscopic fungi.
The research programs of the Centre’s scientists in taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics and the biodiversity of ecological interactions, the research collections of the Centre and the Canadensys network actively contribute to the advancement of our collective understanding of global biodiversity.