Nunavik Sentinels: A one-of-a-kind project
The citizen science project Nunavik Sentinels is being organized in all the Inuit communities in the region. It aims to teach youth aged 12 to 17 to inventory, preserve and identify insects found in their environment, while at the same time giving them an introductory job experience.
The training program will both document the insect biodiversity of Nunavik and help Inuit youth learn about the world of insects. The data gathered will be used to assess the speed of climate change, with a view to better anticipating its impacts on the region.
Nunavik Sentinels, a practical and theoretical program, is designed for the youth of Nunavik’s 16 Inuit communities. Developed by an entomologist, it's offered to groups of a dozen youngsters in each community where there is interest.
With scientific rigour and in language adapted as much as possible to Inuktitut, they learn about the morphology of various groups of insects, as well as their important roles in ecosystems.
In the field, over the course of the summer, the young people will be taught methods of catching and observing insects, using guides and equipment, in order to inventory the insects in their surroundings.
Interested young people will be hired and paid to take part in the Nunavik insect-monitoring program. The training program serves as a socioeconomic driver for Nunavik youth by readying them for the world of work and giving them a chance to make a significant contribution to expanding entomological knowledge of their ancestral land.
Urgent Need to Document Nunavik’s Insect Biodiversity
Although blackflies and mosquitos are the first insects that spring to mind when you think about northern Quebec, many other groups of insects are also found there. And they are all essential to the region’s ecosystems.
Yet we don’t know nearly enough about the insects that live there. The distribution of most species is only partially known and many have never been described.
Insects and climate change
A lack of knowledge about these insects makes it difficult for scientists to determine how fast the environment and its insect biodiversity are changing under the impact of global warming.
Insects and other arthropods in the Far North are reacting quickly to climate change. Their lifespan is fairly short and their life cycle is directly influenced by factors like the weather and the amount of snow.
It’s urgent to gather data on insects to enable researchers to assess the impacts of climate change on insect life and get a better idea of what should be done to help the communities of Nunavik get ready to face it.