Tracking the status of plants and animals in Atlantic Canada
Growing up in Belleville, Sean Blaney developed an intense interest in nature at a young age. Today, Sean is one of Canada’s preeminent botanists and all-around biologists, able to identify thousands of plant and animal species and to provide encyclopedic insights into their natural history.
“I remember learning to read at age four,” Sean says, “in part because I knew the names of many different birds. I could look at a birding field guide and figure out why G-R-A-C-K-L-E spelled grackle and S-T-A-R-L-I-N-G spelled starling. I became a proficient birder through many family outings and later through personal exploration while in high school.”
Early in his career, Sean spent “eight happy summers” as a professional naturalist in Algonquin Provincial Park. He earned a master’s degree in botany in 1999 and that year joined the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre as its first senior botanist. Eighteen years later, he is now its executive director and senior scientist. There, Sean leads the centre’s work in tracking the status of the native flora and fauna of Atlantic Canada. The centre is one of ten such organizations across Canada—one in every other province and territory. They are nationally linked through Natureserve Canada and connected to a network of conservation data centres throughout the United States and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.
“I feel good,” says Sean, “about adding to the understanding of the species that share our landscape, and putting that knowledge into a form that will serve conservation interests for generations to come. I believe that if more people were exposed to the fascinating beauty of biological diversity in a deeper way, we would do a much better job of limiting the impacts of our way of life, our societal footprint.”