Christina Rinas (Ph.D. candidate)

As a new PhD student I quickly learned that there is much more to a tree trunk than meets the eye. I began my research in the summer of 2017 by making observations of arboreal lichen and moss communities. I observed trees of the same species growing right next to one another that had entirely different arboreal communities. I noticed that on certain trees the arboreal communities were completely different depending on the side of the tree you were looking at. These patterns raise fundamental questions about how these communities change depending on environmental or stochastic factors, and as the forest type changes. What are the biotic and abiotic factors underlying the striking patterns of biodiversity in these communities?

I am interested in researching how epiphytic lichens and bryophyte communities change across vertical, elevational, and ecological gradients in Mont Mégantic National Park, Quebec. My study system provides excellent opportunities for addressing questions about the causes of species distribution limits and how those influence biodiversity in the eastern forests. A tree trunk can represent many gradients (i.e., vertical, circular), easily replicated in a single site. Additionally, the distinctive deciduous – coniferous gradient in the park makes it an ideal place to study how the biodiversity of epiphytic species changes between forest types.

En tant que nouvelle étudiante au doctorat j’ai rapidement appris que les troncs d’arbre en ont bien plus à racontrer que ce que l’on voit au premier coup d’oeil. Durant l’été 2017, j’ai commencé ma recherche en faisant des observations des lichens arboricoles et des mousses arboricoles. J’ai observé que des individus de la même espèce d’arbre poussant à proximité ont différentes communautés arboricoles. J’ai remarqué que les communautés arboricoles changent selon le côtes d’arbres sur lequel elles poussent. À la lumiere de ces observations je me demande si ces changements des communautés sont causés par différents types de forêts et s’ils sont causés par des facteurs environmentaux ou des facteurs stochastiques. Quels sont les facteurs biotiques et les facteurs abiotiques qui sont à la base de ces différences de biodiversité dans les patrons intéressants que l’on observe dans ces communatés.

Je m’intéresse aux changements des communautés arboricoles de lichens et mousses à travers les gradients verticaux, élévationnels, et écologiques au parc national du Mont Mégantic, au Quebec. Mon système d’étude fournit plusieurs opportunités pour mieux comprendre les causes de répartition des espèces et comment elles influencent la biodiversité des forêts de l’est. Un tronc d’arbre peux représenter plusieurs gradients (vertical, circulaire) qui sont facilement reproductibles sur un même site. En outre, le gradient forestier particulier du parc passant de décidue à boréale, est un lieu ideal pour étudier les changements de biodiversité des espèces arboricoles selon les types de forêts.

Ming Ni (Ph.D. student)

I have a broad interest in community ecology and biogeography – how environmental gradients influence species distributions and performance. For my PhD research, I will mainly focus on soil effects on plant distributions and migration in eastern North America, and the evolutionary history of plant soil niches.

In North America, there is a marked latitudinal gradient of soil properties. In particular, the soil environments in boreal forests may be not suitable for plants from temperate areas, impeding plant migration under climate change. Therefore, detecting soil variation across space and soil effects on plant distributions at a broad scales has important implications for predicting responses to climate change. Meanwhile, species are evolving; if plant soil niches can evolve quickly, our prediction based on species' current distributions may be biased. I will also explore the evolution of plant soil niches - especially in comparison with historical climatic adaptation.

Inês Martins (Postdoc, Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, co-supervised with Maria Dornelas & Chris Thomas)

I’m a macroecologist particularly interested in understanding how biodiversity is changing across the globe. My work typically uses statistical and computational approaches to analyze large datasets (incl. qualitative data) and often transcends multiple spatial scales or levels of organization. In the Leverhume Center for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB), my focus is on understanding the theoretical and empirical relationships between drivers of environmental change and the diversity and composition of terrestrial assemblages at multiple spatio-temporal scale. In particular, my research will focus on understanding how different levels of biological diversity (e.g., species, ecosystems) diversify in human-altered environments, which vary in the extent of modification and scale of analysis, as well as their potential socio-economic drivers.

Madelaine Anderson (Ph.D. Student)

Broadly, I am interested in how plant communities and landscapes are impacted by global change. Growing up, I spent all my summers in northern Canada, which inspired curiosity about and passion for northern ecosystems. The Arctic tundra biome is changing quickly with major implications on biodiversity, climate, and humans. My doctoral research is situated within the Arctic portion of the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO) project. Working with CABO and Team Shrub, led by Isla Myers-Smith and based out of the University of Edinburgh, I will explore biodiversity change in the tundra biome using remote sensing approaches and field-based surveys. I will ask questions about linking tundra plant spectral signatures to tundra plant phenology, plant traits and biodiversity.

Tadhg Carroll (Postdoc, Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, co-supervised with Maria Dornelas & Chris Thomas)

I am interested in all aspects of Ecology, but my work has focused to date on Community Ecology. My research at the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity focuses primarily on investigating biodiversity change in contemporary ecological assemblages. Biodiversity is complex, and needs to be viewed in many different ways in order to understand how it has changed in the past, or to have any hope of predicting future trajectories. I’m keen to uncover processes underlying biodiversity change, as well as documenting various aspects of empirical trends over time. Current lines of research include attempts to understand adaptive dynamics in ecological communities, and if and how rare species become common and common species become rare. I also have a deep interest, and gradually growing skillset, in Applied Bayesian Statistics and how such techniques can be used to tease knowledge out from nature.




Anna Crofts (Ph.D. student)

I am a field ecologist, broadly interested in how plant abundance and distributions are changing in response to global change and, in turn, how these changes in plant community composition influence ecosystem properties. During my BSc, at the University of British Columbia, I was hired as an alpine ecologist research assistant which sparked my interest in plant ecology, specifically related to elevational gradients. My MSc, at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, examined how biotic interactions affect boreal conifer recruitment at alpine treeline.

In 2019, I began my PhD working as a part of the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO), an interdisciplinary research initiative aimed at examining major drivers of plant biodiversity across Canada through spectranomics. Spectranomics is a novel approach to quantifying plant taxanomic and functional diversity, which uses airborne hyperspectral images to identify plant species and quantify foliar traits. I will lead the field-based biodiversity survey in Parc national du Mont Mégantic, Québec. For my doctoral research, I ask: (i) can remotely-sensed, hyperspectral data quantify forest community properties, and in turn, (ii) how do forest community properties vary across climate (elevation) and resource extraction gradients?

Erin Crockett (Ph.D. student, McGill University, co-supervised with Elena Bennett)

I am particularly interested in predicting how human actions may affect biodiversity and ecosystem services. More specifically, my research explores how the supply of ecosystem services has changed over the past 30 years, and develops models to estimate potential future changes to these services under an array of plausible scenarios. I am also working to improve our theoretical understanding of the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to develop models that put these ideas into practice.

Christine Wallis (Postdoc, Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory)

I am an ecologist, working between the fields of remote sensing and biodiversity science. I am broadly interested in species composition of different taxonomic groups and ecosystem functions. To assess their distribution, I make extensive use of spatial analyses, GIS and remote sensing data at different spectral and spatial resolutions. In my PhD thesis I investigated the potential of multispectral remote sensing in tropical biodiversity modelling and worked mainly in forest ecosystems.

Here, I will work as a postdoc in the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO). Within the CABO project, my research will focus on the multi-scale monitoring of plants and their functions in different Canadian ecosystems using hyperspectral data from airborne surveys. Together with other CABO members, I will analyze whether plant composition within and between the different ecosystems can be determined by spectral diversity. Furthermore, I will investigate the underlying effects of plant and spectral traits on species composition. The goal of my work will be to estimate the plant taxonomic and functional diversity of different Canadian ecosystems. This will help to analyze and answer further questions related to land use change, climate change and plant invasions.

Françoise Cardou, (Postdoc)

The Anthropocene will be marked by massive coupling between natural and social systems, involving important feedbacks between how we impact the environment and how it affects us. My overall aim is to understand the diversity of ways in which we shape and are shaped by our environment. Thus far, my work has focused on plant communities in socio-ecological systems to understand how we impact ecosystems, and in turn, how we can quantify these to inform management. Taking a broader view, my current research focuses on the idea that both biological and social systems can be conceptualized under the same general theory of evolution and adaptation. Specifically, I am investigating whether increased movement of species, people, and information in the Anthropocene is generating similar patterns of diversity across natural and social systems.   

 L'Anthropocène sera marquée par un couplage massif entre les systèmes naturels et sociaux, impliquant d'importantes rétroactions entre notre impact sur l'environnement et la manière dont il nous affecte. Mon objectif général est de comprendre les diverses façons dont nous influençons et sommes influencés par cet environnement. Jusqu'à présent, mon travail s'est concentré sur les communautés végétales dans les systèmes socio-écologiques afin d'y comprendre notre impact et, en retour, comment nous quantifions ces écosystèmes pour en informer la gestion. Adoptant une perspective plus large, ma recherche actuelle se concentre sur l'idée que les systèmes biologiques et sociaux peuvent être conceptualisés selon la même théorie générale d'évolution et d'adaptation. Plus précisément, je cherche à savoir si l'augmentation de la circulation des espèces, des personnes et de l'information dans l'Anthropocène génère des changements comparables dans la diversité des systèmes naturels et sociaux.

Hasanki Gamhewa (M.Sc. Student)

I am particularly interested in how environmental gradients affect the distribution and performance of different plant functional groups. For my M.Sc. research, I will focus on whether climate warming might influence the duration of the high light period for early spring forest plants in Parc national du Mont Mégantic. Leaves of several understory plants (e.g., in the genera Trillium, Erythronium, Claytonia and Dicentra) emerge 3-4 weeks prior to closure of the tree canopy.  Using estimates of phenology from automated cameras and manipulations of light over 5 years, I will ask the following specific questions; (1) will climate warming alter the duration of this period of high light? and (2) what are the fitness consequences of different durations of high light?


Socially distanced lab picnic: Diane Auberson-Lavoie, Françoise Cardou, Ming Ni, Mark Vellend, Anna Crofts, Mélanie Béhé, Christina Rinas, Sabine St-Jean, Isabelle Lefebvre (Parc Jaques Cartier, juillet 2020)


Back row: Mark Vellend, Christina Rinas, Françoise Cardou, David Watts, Ming Ni; From row: Anna Crofts, Amanda Young, Diane Auberson-Lavoie (Mont Mégantic, mars 2019)

Same people, same day, selfie version.

Past Graduate Students and Post-docs

Terri Lacourse
UBC NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2006-2007
Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

Patrick Lilley
UBC M.Sc. 2005-2007: "Determinants of native and exotic plant species diversity and composition in remnant oak savannas on southeastern Vancouver Island"
Current Position: Environmental Consultant, Kerr Wood Leidal

Emily Drummond
UBC M.Sc. 2006-2009: "The consequences of genetic diversity for invasion success in populations of dandelions"
Current Position: Postdoc, Rieseberg Lab

Hiroshi Tomimatsu
UBC Postdoctoral Fellow (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science) 2007-2009
Current Position: Associate Professor, Yamagata University
htomimatsu [at]

Will Cornwell
UBC Biodiversity Research Centre Postdoctoral Fellow 2007-2009
Current Position: Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales, Australia

Tom Deane
UBC M.Sc. 2008-2010: "Environmental and biotic influences on the abundance and distribution of an introduced grass species: implications for management in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia"

Tanis Gieselman
UBC M.Sc. 2008-2010: "Changes in grassland community composition at human-mediated edges in the south Okanagan"
Current position: Vice-president, Central Okanagan Land Trust

Nathan Kraft
UBC Biodiversity Research Centre Postdoctoral Fellow 2009-2011
Current position: Associate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Isla Myers-Smith
Postdoctoral Fellow 2011-2012
Current Position: Chancellor's Fellow, University of Edinburgh

Carissa Brown
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2013
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Memorial University

Heather Kharouba
Ph.D., UBC, 2008-2013, "The influence of spatial and temporal climate variation on species' distributions, phenologies and interactions"
Current Position (autumn 2016): Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

Jenny McCune
Ph.D., UBC, 2008-2013, "The long-term history of plant communities on southeastern Vancouver island based on vegetation resurveys and phytolith analysis"
Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of Lethbridge

Robin Beauséjour
M.Sc., 2011-2014, "Influence des perturbations anthropiques historiques sur les patrons d’invasion de plantes et de vers de terre non-indigènes dans une forêt primaire tempérée (Réserve Naturelle Gault, Mont St-Hilaire)"
Current position: Agent technique chez Ville de Montréal

Josée Savage
M.Sc., 2012-2014, "Changements temporels dans la végétation du Mont-Mégantic sur quatre décennies : effet du réchauffement climatique"

Geneviève Lajoie
M.Sc., 2012-2014, "Des sources de l’association trait-environnement entre les communautés végétales : Comprendre la dépendance sur le contexte de la contribution de la variation intraspécifique"
Current position: Ph.D. student, UQAM

Jean-Philippe Lessard
QCBS Postdoctoral Fellow 2012-2014
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Concordia University

Anne Bjorkman
M.Sc., 2006-2009, "Changes in the landscape and vegetation of southeastern Vancouver Island and Saltspring Islands, Canada, since European settlement"
Ph.D., 2009-2014, "Ecological and evolutionary consequences of experimental and natural warming in the high Arctic tundra"
Current Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Germany

Jamie Leathem
M.Sc., 2009-2014, "Community assembly along subarctic roadsides: the role of plant functional traits in native and exotic species"
Current Position: Ecosystems Biologist, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Morgane Urli
Post-doctoral fellow, 2013-2015
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow, Québec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife & Parks

Martine Fugère
M.Sc., 2013-2015, "Étude du patron d'invasion des vers de terre exotiques dans le Parc national du Mont-Tremblan et de leurs impacts sur le milieu forestier"
Current position: Rédactrice/animatrice en vulgarisation scientifique chez Zapiens

Benjamin Marquis (co-supervised by Matthew Peros, Bishop's)
M.Sc., 2014-2016, "La limite de répartition supérieure de l’érable à sucre et du bouleau jaune sous contrôle climatique : étude dendroécologique le long d’un gradient d’élévation".
Current position: Ph.D. student, UQAT

Julien Beguin
FQRNT Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-2015
Current position: Biologist, Centre de Foresterie des Laurentides

Cesc Murria
Beatriu de Pinós Research Fellow, 2013-2016
Current position: Freshwater Ecology and Management, Departament d'Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona

Sébastien Rivest
M.Sc. 2015-2017, "Variations altitudinales des interactions biotiques et de la phénologie de la floraison chez deux plantes de sous-étage de l'est de l'Amérique du nord"
Current position: Ph.D. student, University of Ottawa

Liz Kleynhans
Ph.D. 2011-2018 (UBC), "Community context of adaptation to environmental change"
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow, University of British Columbia

Antoine Becker-Scarpitta
Ph.D. 2014-2018, "Dynamiques temporelles des communautés végétales forestières en réponses aux changements globaux"

Julie Messier
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-2018.
Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo

Véronique Boucher-Lalonde
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-2018
Current position: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Diane Auberson-Lavoie
M.Sc. 2017-2019. "Causes et conséquences de l'herbivorie par le cerf de Virginie sur Trillium erectum le long d'un gradient élévationnel"
Current position: Animatrice, Parc Yamaska, SÉPAQ

Amanda Young
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017-2019
Current position: Spatial and Environmental Data Center Manager, Toolik Field Station, Alaska.

David Watts
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017-2019

Sabine St-Jean
Technicienne, 2019-2020
Current position: Coordonateur de laboratoire, Université de Sherbrooke

Alexis Carteron
Ph.D. 2016-2020 (co-supervisé, U. Montréal). "La dominance mycorhizienne en tant que facteur local déterminant des processus écologiques forestiers".
Current position: Postdoc, Université de Montréal

Victor Danneyrolles
Postdoc, 2017-2020 (co-supervisé, Rimouski, Abitibi)
Current position: Postdoc, Université de Sherbrooke

Old lab pictures...


Diane Auberson-Lavoie, Mark Vellend, Sébastien Rivest, Amanda Young (Mont Mégantic, mars 2017)

Labo, August 2016: Yuanzhi Li (Shipley lab), Chuping Wu, Julie Messier, Jinliang Liu, Mélissa Paquet, Antoine Becker-Scarpitta, Mark Vellend, Nikola Tutic, Sébastien Rivest

Labo, mars 2014: Morgane, Antoine, Cesc, François, Geneviève, Benjamin

Labo, juillet 2012: Anne-Sophie, Geneviève, Leonardo, Josée, Carissa, Robin, Isla, Valérie, Mark

July 2007, Vancouver Island: Anne Bjorkman, Emily Drummond, Laura Super, Mark Vellend, Patrick Lilley, Jen Muir, Hiroshi Tomimatsu

May 2008, Golden Ears Provincial Park: Hiroshi Tomimatsu, Jenn Muir, Mark Vellend, Maurice Agha, Heather Kharouba, Emily Drummond, Anne Bjorkman, Nozomi Tomimatsu, Will Cornwell, Tanis Gieselman, Jenny McCune

May 2010, Taylor Point, Saturna Island: Nathan Kraft, Jenny McCune, Heather Kharouba, Mark Vellend, Tanis Gieselman, Jamie Leathem, Anne Bjorkman

Christmas/Farewell Party 2010: Back row: Jamie, Jenny, Emily, Dan, Annabelle, Heather, Anne, Hannes, Patrick, Mark, Félix, Véronique, Nathan; Front row: Liz, Joe, Janet, Tanis