As a research associate with the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology lab (GLEL) at Carleton University, my research interests merge landscape ecology and wildlife conservation: Can we extrapolate how species respond to attributes of their local environment such as patch size, patch isolation, and edge effects to large areas as a way to infer effects of habitat fragmentation over landscapes and regions? How does habitat heterogeneity and landscape configuration influence species responses across scales? Broadly, I’m interested in understanding how environmental factors influence animal behaviour, including habitat selection, predator-prey dynamics, and ultimately population dynamics. I am particularly interested in non-invasive and multi-species approaches to answer these complex questions. Cross-scale extrapolations of animal responses are central themes of my research.
As a member of the Bear Specialist Group (BSG) under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), leading a field-based project looking at habitat selection patterns and distribution overlap between sloth bears and Asiatic black bears in and around protected areas of the Terai Arc of Nepal and India.
I Until recently, my research focused primarily on management and conservation of grizzly bears and woodland caribou. During the summer of 2018, I led the first DNA-based grizzly bear population census in the Swanhills area (Bear Management Area 7) of Alberta, Canada, within a collaborative partnership with the Government of Alberta and fRI Research Staff. Between 2013 and 2019, I developed and implemented all aspects of research activities aimed at delineating priority areas for on-the-ground restoration within caribou ranges, and towards understanding the use of regenerating landscape features by caribou, other ungulates, their predators, and humans.
I obtained my PhD (2015) in Biology from l’Université Laval, Québec, Canada, my BSc (2005) in Environmental Science from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, and a diploma (2002) in Recreation, Fish and Wildlife Technology from Selkirk College, British-Columbia. My PhD focused on the links between environmental conditions and grizzly bear behaviour in the context of climate change. Collecting food, habitat, human, and weather-related data for my PhD involved 4 years of adventurous backcountry skiing and hiking to reach grizzly bear dens during winter and summer. From data collected in the field and through satellite imagery, I developed spatial models of denning habitat, identified and quantified the relative importance of environmental factors in the timing and duration of hibernation, and evaluated the influence of ambient temperature on patterns of habitat selection for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains and foothills of Alberta, Canada.
I have also been involved in a variety of research projects including, but not restricted to: DNA-based population inventories for grizzly bears, assessing human-motorized used and predator use of linear features to inform restoration within caribou ranges, monitoring and mapping of endangered species area-use, tributary-trunk glacier flow measurements and crevasse strain analyses, grizzly bear diet from scat analyses as part of a food-based model; and snowpack spatial dynamics and meteorological controls in the southern Rocky Mountains.
I am an active member of the International Association on bear research and management (IBA) and The Wildlife Society (TWS). I've presented research findings at academic conferences in Greece, India, Mexico, Ecuador, the USA, and across Canada. More recently, I have been focused on much needed efforts to better understand an under-represented bear species of the world: the sloth bear.