Since 2013, classrooms across Canada have participated in the School Malaise Trap Program, a nationwide research project conducted by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG). Located at the University of Guelph, the CBG is a research institute dedicated to rapidly identifying and documenting life in Canada and the rest of the world. This is no easy task since there are millions of different species of animals and plants across the globe, and about 100,000 of them occur in Canada. In addition, it’s often difficult (even for experts!) to separate closely related species by their appearance alone.

Fortunately, the CBG has developed a new tool that makes identifying species quick and easy — it’s called DNA barcoding. Just like a can of beans in a grocery store, where the barcode is scanned to let the cashier quickly know it is different from a can of peas, each species has a small piece of DNA that can be used to distinguish it from other species. The CBG is assembling a DNA barcode reference library for all of the world’s species, called BOLD – Barcode of Life Data Systems, and we’re doing it through a huge research project called the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL).

We need help to complete it, and that’s where your class and the School Malaise Trap Program fit in. Through the School Malaise Trap Program, we have provided thousands of students with information on biodiversity, DNA barcoding, and the star of our program — the Malaise trap.

Bringing Biodiversity to Canada's Schoolyards