Research

I am an ecologist. I study wildlife and ecosystems.

Compass Bearing

I am a Masters candidate in the  Environmental and Life Sciences Program at Trent University. My research focuses on biodiversity conservation in one of the world’s greatest remaining intact ecosystems: the Far North of Ontario. More specifically, I study the distribution of bird diversity across this landscape.

Ontario’s Far North

Together with parts of Manitoba, Ontario’s Far North represents the largest ecologically intact boreal forest in the world. It also contains North America’s largest wetland. Populations of iconic wildlife species such as woodland caribou, wolverines and Canada’s southern-most polar bears make their home in this region – it is also a core breeding nursery for boreal birds.

Why birds?

Palm WarblerOver 190 species of birds use the Far North as habitat. In the summer months 70 – 80 percent of all vertebrate species in boreal forests are birds. Thus, birds have a large inherent ecological value in these ecosystems. Understanding patterns of bird diversity is important for their long-term conservation. But since they are so ubiquitous on the landscape, they may also serve as ecosystem indicators and their distribution may reveal areas of particular biological value in the Far North.

Proactive conservation planning

Sunset reflection in a pond in the boreal forest in Ontario's Far North.

The Far North is high quality wildlife habitat. It is also on the cusp of change as industrial interests escalate in the region, most notably the Ring of Fire. While most conservation projects are forced to work with the remaining scraps of ecosystems, the Far North still holds the opportunity for proactive conservation planning at a large scale.  It is my hope that my research can make a contribution to conservation planning efforts in the Far North.

Visit my research photo gallery here.