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Current Lab Members

Predator-Prey Dynamics of Mountain Caribou Following Small-block Forest Harvest
Jake Bradshaw - PhD

Jake has a broad background in resource management with a focus on ensuring landscape planning benefits wildlife. His PhD research investigates how historic resource management has contributed to contemporary issues in caribou ecology. At the operational forestry scale, Jake studies the influence of silvicultural systems on apparent competition and forage-risk tension. He extends his research to the population scale to identify how landscape-change affects the demography of mountain caribou.


Jake is grateful to live in Wet’suwet’en Nation territory and conduct his research on the lands of Lheidli-T'enneh First Nation, Lhtako Dene Nation, Simpcw First Nation, and Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw.


Habitat Ecology of Lynx Across Intensively Managed Forest Landscapes
Shannon Crowley - PhD

Shannon’s PhD research is focused on the habitat ecology of Canada lynx in north central BC. Specifically, he is investigating the response of lynx to environmental change associated with widespread and rapid forest harvesting as well as the ecological basis of surveys used to assess lynx populations. A combination of non-invasive survey methods and GPS collars placed on individual lynx are being used to address his research questions.


Shannon completed his BSc in Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast and his MSc at the University of Northern British Columbia. His research is conducted in and adjacent to the John Prince Research Forest (co-managed by UNBC, Tl’azt’en Nation, Nak’azdli Whut’en, and Binche Keyoh) where he has worked since 2012. 


Understanding the Response of Boreal Caribou to Disturbance and Climate
Éloïse Lessard - MSc

Éloïse started her MSc in 2021 and is currently working on habitat selection of boreal caribou in British Columbia and Québec. More precisely, her research is exploring how local weather conditions might affect habitat selection and to see if there might be a potential combined effect of weather with anthropogenic disturbances.  

Éloïse completed her bachelor's degree in Ecology at Université de Sherbrooke and is currently completing her master at UQAR (Université du Québec à Rimouski) in partnership with UNBC.  


Effects of Landscape Change on Cervid-Parasite Relationships in Interior Northern BC
Benjamin Spitz - PhD

Ben started his PhD in fall 2020 studying host/parasite relationships in moose. His focus is on how landscape change can alter winter tick numbers and their impact on moose populations. Winter tick survival in the context of landscape change is another way he is looking at winter tick populations. Additionally, he is studying how habitat characteristics can affect moose and their endoparasites.


Ben is from Nixa, Missouri, and finished his BA in Wildlife Biology at MSU. He completed his MS in Arkansas at ASTATE studying parasites found on Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. Ben arrived at UNBC in the winter of 2021 and looks forward to continuing to study host/parasite relationships in mammals.

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Managing Habitat for Woodland Caribou following Disturbance
Ian Best - Postdoctoral Fellow

Ian is a postdoctoral fellow investigating the impacts of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on woodland caribou habitat in west-central Alberta. He has broad research interests, which include behavioural ecology, zoology, animal behaviour, wildlife conservation, and agronomy. During his PhD, he focused on how predation risk influenced the spatial and foraging behaviour of small mammal species in Taiwan.


Ian is originally from Toronto, Ontario. He completed his BSc in biology at the University of Guelph. His love for travel took him abroad where he completed his MSc in animal ecology at Lund University in Sweden, and his PhD in wildlife ecology at Academia Sinica/ National Taiwan Normal University in Taiwan.

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Response of Moose to Rapid Landscape Change
Lisa Koetke - PhD


Lisa started as a PhD student in the fall of 2019. Her research focuses on moose responses to anthropogenic forest disturbance. Specifically, she's exploring how forest change affects their diet, their use of forest structure, and their migration. She's also assessing methods for estimating moose abundance using data from an aerial survey and camera traps.  


Originally from Seattle, Washington, Lisa completed her BA in biology at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She then conducted research in the Indian Himalayas for a year on a Fulbright grant and completed her MS in biology at Texas State University. 


Spatial Apparent Competition Between Mountain Caribou, White-tailed Deer, and Moose
Suzanne Stevenson - MSc

Suzanne is in the second year of her MSc studying spatial apparent competition between mountain caribou, white-tailed deer, and moose in west-central Alberta. She is evaluating the seasonal overlap in resource selection among these species and the implications of this overlap for caribou survival.


Suzanne is originally from Calgary, Alberta, and completed her bachelor's degree at Montana State University studying Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management. She has an over-arching interest in understanding how anthropogenic disturbance on the landscape influences wildlife behavior. 


Predicting the Future Range of Northern Mountain Caribou
Oliver Holt - MSc

Oliver’s family roots are intertwined with those of the cedars of the Incomappleux valley. His research project was developed from the ground up with Dr. Chris Johnson and is the result of years of pursuing the privilege of earning a Masters of Science at UNBC. His research is looking at the relationship between predator diet and caribou distribution across a gradient in apparent competition within the range of Northern Mountain caribou in NW BC and southern YT. He is working in partnership with Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments to support ongoing efforts to better understand the influence landscape alterations (e.g. resource development) and climate change have on future population dynamics of Northern Mountain caribou.


Predator-prey dynamics of caribou and range-expanding cougars in central BC
Julie Thomas - PhD

Julie’s PhD work is focused on cougar ecology and predator-prey dynamics with woodland caribou. Her research examines the potential role of white-tailed deer and introduced feral horses as apparent competitors of caribou, with cougars as a shared predator. She is also studying potential predator niche partitioning between wolves and range-expanding cougars. Her research takes place in central BC, within the traditional territories of the Tsilqot’in and Dakelh Nations.

Julie received her MSc from University of Calgary, where she studied wildlife habitat use in response to salvage logging in the boreal forests of Yukon. She has worked as a wildlife biologist in Yukon, Alberta, BC, and South Africa with a focus on species at risk, including ungulates, carnivores, and bats.


Managing Riparian Forests for Terrestrial Wildlife
Hang Li - Postdoctoral Fellow

Hang's project is a collaboration between UNBC and the BC Ministry of Forests. He is examining long-term trends in forest and habitat change across riparian areas in BC. Results will inform an assessment of existing policy and regulation designed to maintain non-fish biodiversity adjacent to rivers, lakes, and wetlands.


Hang is originally from China. He obtained his Phd (Spatial and Earth Sciences) from Indiana State University in 2022.


Recent Lab Members

Environmental Monitoring for the 21st Century: Exploring Indigenous evaluations of the Canadian Government’s Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program
Abby Dooks - MA

Abby successfully defended her MA thesis in May 2022. She used a case-study approach and semi-structured interviews to understand the effectiveness of a federal program designed to support community-based Guardians programs. The funding was promised to “provide Indigenous Peoples with greater opportunity to exercise responsibility in stewardship of their traditional lands, waters and ice”. Communities from across Canada shared their definitions of "Guardianship" and experiences in developing and sustaining programs designed to support stewardship and monitoring of their lands.

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Pacific Marten as an Apex Predator: the Habitat and Diet Ecology of an Insular Population of Mesocarnivore on Haida Gwaii
David Breault - MSc

David successfully defended his MSc thesis in February 2020. He used remote-cameras and stable isotope analysis to investigate habitat use and diet of martens in the unique ecological context of Haida Gwaii. He found that martens were more likely to be detected in landscapes with less logging and optimal amounts of road and forest edge habitat. He also found martens were more likely to be detected near marine shorelines; a result paralleled by the diet analysis, which showed a large proportion of marine invertebrates. David is passionate about integrated ecosystem-based management programs that improve protection of natural systems.


Why Didn't the Caribou Cross the Road? The Barrier Effect of an Industrial Winter Road
Angus Smith - MSc

Hailing from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Angus Smith graduated in 2022 with a MSc from UNBC. His work looked at the effect of an industrial winter road on the behaviour, stress physiology, and movement choices of barren-ground caribou. Despite many long days out on the Tundra he’d go back in a second! His research interests include the effect of habitat change on the movement and habitat selection of wildlife, and how modern technologies such as GPS collars and satellite imagery can be leveraged to address questions in ecology.

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Curious Case of the Coastal Tailed Frog Near the Northern Extent of its Range
Cherie Mosher -PhD

Cherie completed her PhD in 2020 and is a Geneticist with the Molecular Ecology Lab at the USGS Alaska Science Center.  She has a background in using genetics to research the relationship between enigmatic species and their environments.  While in the NWEC lab, she worked on a variety of research projects focused on the coastal tailed frog, a unique species endemic to the streams and forests of the Coastal and Cascade mountains of western North America.  Broadly, she used genetics to better understand the diversity of populations near the northern extent of the species’ range, as well as the feeding ecology of larvae.  She also studied environmental influences on larval density in their natal streams.  She loved the work because she got to know a unique species and spend time in the breathtaking Coastal Mountains of North America.

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