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's research links polar bear diets inferred through fat biopsies with data on body condition and movement patterns of radio-collared polar bears to explore how polar bear diets will be affected as sea ice continues to diminish in the North.
Gretchen Lescord, Laurentian University (PhD student), is modeling mercury (Hg) accumulation throughout the Attawapiskat Watershed, sampling lakes and rivers across the Boreal Shield and into the Hudson Plains. She is utilizing the large and diverse nature of this watershed to better understand how physical, environmental, and chemical gradients affect Hg concentrations in water, invertebrates, and fish. Her sampling sites include several lakes surrounding the mineral-rich area known as the "Ring of Fire", where extensive mining development is expected over the next decade.
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 Mountains
Matthew Scrafford, University of Alberta (PhD candidate), is radiocollaring wolverines in northwest Alberta to quantify how industrial activities (oil, gas, forestry) influence wolverine movement and habitat selection. Matthew also aims to understand wolverine food habits, den-site selection, and density in northwest Alberta. His research will help update wolverine population status assessments in 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 populations in southern 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, while also conducting experimental reintroductions to clarify the mechanisms that currently limit population recovery.
Meagan Grabowski, University of British Columbia (MSc candidate), is using dendrochronological techniques and repeat surveys to identify the key drivers of boreal shrub growth in the Kluane region of southwest Yukon. Understanding what enhances or inhibits shrub growth will aid in developing projections of boreal forest change as climate change progresses, and increase the ability to assess impacts of climate change on wildlife habitat and carbon storage.
Kristin Denryter, University of Northern British Columbia (PhD candidate), is studying the role of nutrition in the conservation of caribou in northern British Columbia. She uses tame caribou as a habitat assessment tool to evaluate the nutritional quality of boreal and montane habitats during summer and early autumn, when nutritional demands are high and animals accumulate fat reserves for winter.