The Invasive Species Research Conference took place June 20 - 22, 2017 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. This not-to-be-missed Conference included keynote speakers; concurrent themed sessions with the invitation for oral presentations; poster presentations; lightning talks; a focused, facilitated discussion on future research priorities for BC and a series of optional field trips in the Kamloops area. The Conference highlights follow below and the full final program is also available for download. The Conference drew 110 attendees, from diverse backgrounds and locations including researchers, practitioners, stewardship groups, and local, provincial and federal government and included presenters from as far as Wales (UK), New York, Alaska, Tennessee, Quebec and the Yukon.

Download the Conference PROGRAM


Keynote Speakers

Two internationally renowned keynote speakers  launched the proceedings on day one and day two: Dr. Daniel Simberloff and Dr. Anthony Ricciardi.

Dr. Simberloff presented on Managing Invasives: Progress, Problems, and Polemics.

Photo: Dr. Daniel Simberloff; credit Dustin Melan

Photo: Dr. Daniel Simberloff; credit Dustin Melan

Dr. Ricciardi presented on Predicting Impact: A Challenge for Invasive Species Risk Assessment.

Photo: Dr. Anthony Ricciardi, credit Dustin Melan

Photo: Dr. Anthony Ricciardi, credit Dustin Melan


Each day a hot topic research presentation followed the keynote presentation. June 20th's hot topic presentation was on "Utility of unmanned aerial vehicles for mapping invasive plant species: a case study on Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus L.)" by Garrett Whitworth.

Photo: Garrett Whitworth; credit Dustin Melan

Photo: Garrett Whitworth; credit Dustin Melan

On June 21st, Cathryn Abbott presented the hot topic presentation on "Building DNA reference libraries to enable the development of eDNA metabarcoding tools for invasive species detection".

Photo: Cathryn Abbott, credit Dustin Melan

Photo: Cathryn Abbott, credit Dustin Melan

The core component of the Conference was a series of concurrent themed sessions: 

  • Environmental DNA and the Detection of Invasive Species
  • Ecological Restoration Following Invasion
  • Social Aspects of Invasion
  • New Approaches to Invasive Species Management
  • Risk Assessment of Invasive Species
  • Tracking Invaders: Where are they?
  • From Just Taking up Space to an Invasive Meltdown

Lightning Talks

On day one, the Conference featured a series of punchy, five-minute long presentations - with no time for Q&A. This proved to be a very popular component of the Conference and attendees had the opportunity to connect with the lightning talk presenters during lunch and additional refreshment breaks.

Research Priorities

On both days of the formal program attendees had the opportunity to provide input on future invasive species research priorities during each session. Each of the themed sessions of research presentations concluded with input from attendees on what more research was needed in that area. On day two of the Conference Pam Giberson of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) presented on NSERC Research Partnership Grants. Following the presentation, all Conference attendees participated in a dedicated facilitated workshop, funded by NSERC, on research priorities and connections. Working in small groups on specific themes, attendees had meaningful discussion about the priorities for invasive species research in Western Canada. 


On the evening of June 20th, attendees met 17 poster presenters and enjoyed refreshments as they learned and networked. The Poster, Nibble and Network session took place in the multi-level Rotunda of TRU’s Campus Activity Centre, which acted as a superb venue for the gallery of research posters and for facilitating networking amongst smaller groups of attendees simultaneously.

June 20 - Bat Field Trip

Bat Observation and Mist Netting

Conference attendees had the opportunity to register for optional field trips on the evening of Day One of the Conference (June 20th) and on June 22nd Day Three of the Conference. The optional scheduled field trips were:

At 9 pm sharp, participants departed TRU by bus to a rural location, approx 20 mins from Kamloops, where a colony of bats lives. Participants were able to see bats flying at dusk between barns, and observed experts mist-netting and measuring bats. Bat detectors on site also enabled participants to hear the echolocation calls of bats. Participants returned by bus to TRU by approx 11:30 pm.

June 22 - Day Field Trip

Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area & Kenna Cartwright Park

Grasslands cover less than 1% of BC, house more than 30% of BC threatened or endangered species, and represent the most endangered ecosystem in Canada. Lac Du Bois is a Provincially protected area approximately 16,000 ha located just north of Kamloops.  This area encompasses three types of grasslands communities and incorporates a complex range use tenure system. Kenna Cartwright Park (KCP) is one of the largest (800 ha) urban parks in North America.  A diverse history of utilization combined with high levels of visitor use make management of invasive species in this park a complex task.  A variety of management tools have been utilized in KCP, many with dramatic effect.

On this field tour participants visited Lac Du Bois and discussed the grassland community types as well as water conservation and utilization issues.  After 'setting the stage' in Lac Du Bois, the field trip headed to Kenna Cartwright Park to look at 'management in action'. These efforts include tree canopy thinning, biocontrol, goats, and fire.

Transportation and bagged lunch was included. This trip departed TRU at 8:30 am and returned by 1 pm.

June 21 - Social

On the evening of June 21, Conference participants were offered an exclusive Winery Experience, with DiVine Tours of Kamloops, by executive coach, with the following itinerary:

  • 4:45 pm - depart TRU for Monte Creek Ranch Winery for wine tasting and tour. Our host provided an overview of the history of Monte Creek and the character on the wine bottle, who was a "nice" train robber who coined teh phrase "Hands up".
  • 6:30pm - arrive at Harper's Trail Winery for wine tasting and Italian sun-set dinner on the patio - catered by Eats Amore. Attendees were free to sample the wines and then dine on the patio at leisure
  • 9:00pm - the participants were dropped off at TRU

A very special thanks to all the Conference sponsors and to Thompson Rivers University for co-hosting the Invasive Species Research Forum 2017 with the Invasive Species Council of BC.