Research Areas:Climate ChangeConservationEcologyEcosystemsEntomologyForest BiologyForest ManagementLandscape EcologyPopulation DemographyStand Dynamics
Ongoing research interests:
- Role of climate change in the population dynamics and impacts of eruptive forest insects
- Coevolution of insect-plant interactions
- Integrated management of forest insect populations
- Advanced techniques for detection and monitoring of forest insect populations
Climate change and forest insect disturbance
Altered disturbance regimes due to global warming are anticipated across the boreal and sub-boreal forests of the world. These changes have already begun to manifest as increases in the extent/severity of insect outbreaks in North America. This component of my research program is intended to elucidate the independent and interacting effects of climate and forest management on bark beetle population eruptions.
Bark beetle population dynamics
Eruptive bark beetles comprise the most significant source of disturbance in western North American conifer forests. Prediction of outbreaks and mitigation of impacts has been hampered by a lack of knowledge of their population processes. My research focuses on the role of small changes in trophic interactions that allow populations of aggressive bark beetle species to increase past an endemic-epidemic population threshold defined by host tree resistance, allowing the formation of localized spot infestations that coalesce into landscape-scale outbreaks.
Risk assessment of the threat of mountain pine beetle to North America’s boreal forest
Due to the synergistic effects of a warming environment and forest management tactics (i.e. fire suppression) that dramatically increased the abundance and distribution of susceptible host trees, the mountain pine beetle outbreak has reached unprecedented levels and breached the historic geoclimatic barrier of the northern Rocky Mountains. Populations are now established within the western margins of the jack pine forests that extend east across boreal North America. This research focuses on quantification of the risk of continued range expansion by the mountain pine beetle through boreal and eastern pine forests.
Advanced techniques for pest detection and monitoring
Efforts to develop methods for the detection and monitoring of forest conditions require a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to address the complexities of forest ecosystems. Typically, researchers are either experts at detection technologies or field biology, rendering the products strong in one or a few disciplines, but weak in others. This research theme comprises multidisciplinary efforts aimed at developing biologically meaningful techniques for remote detection of forest insect pests and their impacts.
Chaire internationale, Bureau des Relations Internationales et de la Cooperation, Universite Libre de Bruxelles 2010
Natural Resources Canada, Award of Excellence for Executive Leadership 2008
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Merit Award for Creativity and Innovation 2008
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Merit Award for Collaboration and Partnership 2007