About Us

1. DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS OF HUMANS ON A TOP PREDATOR

We documented habitat selection for wolves, and detected the human factors (e.g. industrial activities) influencing wolf movements and predation. Forestry may improve habitat for primary prey of wolves (moose, deer), which then increase, incidentally increasing predation on caribou. In addition, wolves may travel more efficiently on linear features, such as roads, seismic lines or trails, especially during the winter, and therefore encounter more caribou. In some jurisdiction, wolves are then controlled by government authorities to alleviate impacts on endangered caribou, with additional impacts including mortality and stress. 

2. From Evolutionary Biology to Conservation Genetics & Planning of Caribou Communities

The discovery of associations between regions of DNA (neutral and non-neutral) and ecological traits of caribou allowed us to define Evolutionarily Significant Units in the caribous which inhabit Canadian Rockies/Western Canada. Finding these patterns may not be exclusive to caribou populations, but may also be found in behaviourally bimodal populations of other animals and plants. We then found that human impacted habitats not only promote the isolation of caribou populations, but also facilitate wolf predation of these animals, which affect the structure of caribou population.

3. "LOSERS & WINNERS" ANIMAL RESPONSES TO HUMAN LAND-USE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Using movement ecology methodologies, our research explored the ways that both predators and prey species respond to human land use and also how prey species respond to predators. We also studied the variations of reactions among different groups of animals, from dispersing to residents, and from females to males [1]. It was also shown that predation was accurately detectable using the Global Positioning System (GPS) collars and cluster analyses. This approach enabled us to document how, in moderately developed areas, wolves and bears could travel on human-made leaner (linear) features, and hunt more efficiently as a consequence [2,3]. These studies are widely used by conservation managers, as they have indicated unintended consequences of the development on predators and its increased impacts on prey. These findings also have implications for conservation planning, since habitat requirements for animals in their core areas differ from the requirements for dispersing animals, thus, different actions are needed within core and corridors areas.

4. LIVING SYSTEMS VS CLIMATE CHANGE

Our research indicates potential effects of climate change in northern environments and demonstrated research and information gaps, especially on plants and herbivores

5. DISEASE ECOLOGY & CONSERVATION MEDICINE IN NORTH AMERICAN ECOSYSTEMS

Our findings show that climate change is impacting ungulates like caribous, in terms of numbers and species’ range shifts –with demonstrated effects also on the distribution of parasites. Parasites of wild ungulates might be transmitted to domestic ungulates in areas where the two overlap, due to land-use changes and encroachment of livestock in wilderness areas.  Our research combined ecological approaches (movement monitoring with GPS) and conservation medicine to assess disease transmission risk between wildlife and livestock. As an example, we documented increased occurrence of a parasite (Fascioloides magna) as a consequence of elk migration and commingling with beef cattle.

1
Wildlife Ecology Research Group

32
Researchers

24
Projects Funded

17
conservation partners