Data Sharing and Openness

Council E-News
December 2010
Letter from the Editors 

Welcome to the third issue of Council E-News, your source for updates on the Council's assessments, corporate activities, its Member Academies, and science in Canada.

With the recent release of two assessments, Honesty, Accountability and Trust: Fostering Research Integrity in Canada, and Canadian Taxonomy: Exploring Biodiversity, Creating Opportunity, the Council is pleased to highlight an issue that touches on both of these reports - data sharing and the concept of openness in research.

This issue's Fellow in Focus features Dr. Sarah P. Otto, Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor and Director of the Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, and member of the Council's Expert Panel on Biodiversity Science. Dr. Otto's research has led to novel ways to estimate how features of an organism impacts rates of speciation (the evolutionary formation of new biological species) and extinction.

This issue also includes a special Perspectives article about open science by Emmanuel Mongin, a Research Associate at the Council.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Council E-News and continue to provide your feedback!

Questions? Comments? Email us at

President's Message 

As we prepare to enter a new year, we look back fondly on 2010 as one filled with many accomplishments, none of which would have been possible without our dedicated, expert volunteers. The hard work of panel members and report reviewers alike, and their committment to the Council, contributed to our many successes over the past 12 months, including the launch of two new reports. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the Council staff, who have put in a tremendous effort over the last year.

In This Issue: 

President's Message 
Expert Panels at Work
Fellow in Focus: Dr. Sarah P. Otto, FRSC
Spotlight on Research Integrity; Biodiversity
Around the Council
News from the Academies 
Perspectives - The Expanding Field of Open Science
The Henry Friesen Award
Did You Know...?

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Did You Know...?

You might not think about mistletoe until you happen to find yourself standing under some during the holiday season, but this plant is a lot more interesting and complex than many people realize.

Found all over the world, from Asia to Europe to the Americas, this decorative little plant is actually considered to be a serious pest species. Mistletoe includes roughly 1,500 plants that live above the ground in trees or shrubs. They're different from other parasitic plants because they still make their own energy through photosynthesis, only relying on their host for water and minerals. The dwarf mistletoe is also unique amongst its species for its ability to blast its gelatinous seeds up to 16 metres away.

Dwarf mistletoe, a parasitic evergreen native to Canada, latches onto conifers, inflicting serious damage on its host. While mistletoe most often stunts the growth of its host tree, it can sometimes kill it, or make the tree more vulnerable to invasive species such as the pine beetle.

But, surprising new research is shedding light on how mistletoe can be beneficial to forest health and the survival of certain species, such as lemurs in Madagascar and western bluebirds. The mistletoe plant remains green all year long, providing a food source for foraging animals in the colder or drier seasons.

To learn more visit National Geographic News.

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