Tundra Ecology Lab (Team Shrub)

Welcome to Team Shrub!

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We are ecologists working to understand how global change alters plant communities and ecosystem processes. We work at focal research sites in Northern Canada and conduct data syntheses at tundra biome and global scales.

A key theme of our research is investigating climate change impacts in tundra ecosystems. There is strong evidence that tundra ecosystems are responding to a warming climate. However, we don’t yet know the mechanistic pathways leading to change that would allow for quantitative predictions. Vegetation change could restructure the tundra by influencing nutrient cycles, carbon storage, surface reflectance, thus creating feedbacks that can affect the planet as a whole. Our research group is addressing these major knowledge gaps to better understand the causes and consequences of vegetation change.

We conduct field research using a variety of tools including ecological monitoring, drones, dendroecology, decomposition experiments using tea bags, and more. We also lead data syntheses in collaboration with researchers working across the circumpolar Arctic and around the world.

Check out our research, publications, media, outreach and team. To find out more about our research check out our research blog: phenology, drones, biodiversity, northern collaborators, etc.

We also really love shrubs.

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Recent Posts

Arctic Change 2017 – Wednesday round-up

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Another day of snow in Quebec City, another day of Arctic conferencing at Arctic Change 2017. Another packed plenary, hearing from Larry Hinzman on how we can and must adapt as not only the climate changes, but many other factors as well. We heard the fascinating, and certainly complex debate around the ownership and use of the northwest passage. Finally, we stood together to celebrate the work of Dr. Michel Allard, winner of this year’s Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research.

Team Shrub was well represented in the first session of Monitoring, Modeling and Predicting Arctic Biodiversity. Isla made a convincing case for detection of various components of vegetation change and their attribution to warming. Jeff then demonstrated the scaling issues we have when going from ground-based to satellite observations – impressing the audience with drone footage at the same time.

In this session we also heard from Paul Grogan of Queens University with a fascinating talk on birch expansion driven by a decrease in herbivory rather than by increased temperatures. Last up was Pascale Ropars (who first taught me the art of digging shrubs up many years ago), presenting a whole-food-web approach to predicting biodiversity change in Northern Québec.

After a delicious lunch (the food here!) which peaked with three helpings of profiteroles, it was time to go back to the second part of the Arctic Biodiversity session. Katriina O’Kane showed us how species move individually rather than as a community during succession at a glacier’s edge. Cory Wallace and Jennifer Baltzer from the Forest Ecology Research Group at Wilfrid-Laurier also took us on a tour of alder shrubs, topographic variation, and the factors controlling black spruce abundance.

Finally, eyes starting to itch and brains hurting from a day packed full of new knowledge, we heard from Caroline Coch on the role of small catchments for dissolved organic carbon inputs, and from Dustin Whalen on how drones are being used to map coastal erosion in the Arctic.

Haydn, Jakob and myself were still on duty by our posters in the evening. Between lively scientific discussions and running into old friends, the two hours flew by and our team set out hungrily in search of poutine. Unfortunately, my insider knowledge of Québec didn’t extend to knowing Ashton’s opening hours, so the door shut in our disappointed faces. We had to turn to (highly satisfying) falafels eaten on the street in -10 degrees C weather to get back to the conference centre in time for the first screening of Breaking Ice, a documentary that took us on the Canadian research ice-breaker the Amundsen.

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I suspect Haydn, Jakob, Isla and Andy are in various stages of anticipation for their Thursday talks. Good luck all!

By Sandra

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