We conduct research on the ecology and evolutionary biology of terrestrial large mammals. Our work is academic, but we also work with stakeholders to formulate management and conservation plans, with a focus on western North American landscapes.

Human impacts on isolation and diversity of wildlife populations

Owing to decreased movement between fragments (lack of connectivity) and fewer individuals in fragments, populations could become genetically isolated –which is known to influence risk of extirpation. My research program investigates population connectivity, genetic isolation, genetic diversity and abundance of three species, with different habitat requirements, roles in the food web and conservation statuses: wolves (a habitat-generalist), wolverines (a habitat-specialist species of conservation concern) and caribou (a threatened habitat-specialist, and prey of wolves).

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A Portable DNA Species Detection Device for Conservation

The goal of this project is to develop an affordable (less than CAN$1.00 per assay) and simple-to-use paper-based device capable of extracting and identifying DNA from biological samples, in the field, in real time. The device will provide researchers, environmental managers, Indigenous communities and citizen scientists with a cost-effective tool capable of producing real-time presence/absence data for species, without the need for complex analytical processes. This stands to make a substantial contribution to the field of conservation science, both nationally and globally, and will be highly useful for targeted monitoring of threatened species.

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Effects of human and natural habitat factors on wolverine density and connectivity

“Wolverines are amazingly tough, yet they are now listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. Why? Wolverines have few young, and their habitat everywhere is increasingly impacted by human activity. Climate change is melting away the deep spring snowpack wolverines seem to rely on for survival.How do these changes contribute to the decline in their numbers seen in many places?Our research aims to answer these questions and find science-based solutions to ensure that future generations will be able to catch a glimpse of this mighty animal in its wild habitat, too.”

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