WCS Canada

2013 Fellows

Ontario Northern Boreal

Brandon Laforest, York University (PhD candidate), is studying the feeding ecology of polar bears in the southern portion of Hudson Bay and James Bay to monitor and predict future shifts in both diet and body condition. Brandon is using data on body mass, body condition, movement patterns, and genetic samples from radio-collared polar bears to explore how their diet will be affected as sea ice continues to diminish in the North. 

Rachael Derbyshire, University of Guelph (MSc candidate), is investigating whether reproductive success in gray jays is limited by winter food availability, and if so, what stage of the breeding cycle is most affected. The gray jay is a resident species of the Canadian northern boreal forest, and evidence suggests that climate change may be decreasing reproductive success in the southern part of its range.
Alexandra Sumner, Laurentian University (MSc candidate), is determining whether mercury levels in the Attawapiskat drainage basin in northern Ontario have increased in the past few decades, a process that can occur as organic matter decomposes due to a warming climate. Alexandra is measuring mercury levels in walleye fish from 11 lakes in the region to compare levels to previous walleye surveys in the same lakes from the 1970s and 1980s.
Lorna Harris, McGill University (PhD candidate), is studying how peatlands in the Hudson Bay Lowlands respond to changing environmental conditions.  Lorna is conducting gas and hydrological measurements and vegetation surveys to determine how these compare between pristine peatlands and those drained for mining activities.


Northern Boreal Mountain

Matthew Scrafford, University of Alberta (PhD candidate), is radiocollaring wolverines to quantify how industrial activities influence their movement and occupancy in northwest Alberta (Bistcho Lake and Rainbow Lake).  His research will help update ecological risk assessments for wolverines in northern Alberta and provide strategies for managing wolverine populations in the face of industrial expansion. 
Jeffery Werner, University of British Columbia (PhD candidate), is investigating a recent crash in the Arctic ground squirrel population in the Kluane boreal forest, Yukon, where this species is an important prey item for a plethora of carnivores, from raptors to grizzly bears, and plays a key role in the ecosystem as an herbivore. Jeffery is quantifying the regional extent of local extinctions and trying to identify habitat features that are allowing the surviving colonies to persist.