Mark Boyce, BS, MS, MPhil, PhD, CWB, FRSC
Mathematical and simulation models of ecological systems primarily at the population level for conservation and management. Population viability analysis, resource selection functions, time series, and predator-prey models. Carbon sequestration and storage in grassland ecosystems with implications for conservation.
1. Habitat Selection and Abundance.
We have been studying distribution and abundance of large mammals for several years, building on technological developments with GPS radiotelemetry and camera trapping. Recently Jenny Foca used extensive camera trap data from Elk Island National Park and adjacent Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area to estimate abundance of 5 species of ungulates. Grace Enns wrote her thesis on stone sheep in the Cassiar Mountains of NW British Columbia, documenting seasonal movements and habitat selection. Camille Warbington used mark-resight methods for spatially explicit capture-recapture abundance estimation related to habitat selection by sitatunga, a spiral-horned antelope in papyrus marshes of Uganda. Ian Gazeley is studying movement and habitat selection by bighorn rams in context of contact with domestic sheep where there is a risk of disease transmission. Wyatt Villetard will monitor habitat selection and migration by Sandhill Cranes.
2. Cougar Population Ecology and Prey Selection.
We had 2 M.Sc. students, Samantha Widmeyer and Meghan Beale, studying cougar behaviour and ecology with special focus on their predation on bighorns. Field studies were focused on the Cadomin area south of Hinton, Alberta. Samantha developed methods for evaluating the efficacy of extended cougar hunting seasons in mountain units of western Alberta, and has used stable isotopes to characterize cougar diets. Meghan’s habitat and prey selection studies call to question predator control programs for cougars in Alberta.
3. Harvesting Effects on Wildlife.
I am conducting a synthesis of the effects of hunting and other types of wildlife harvest on genetics, life history, and demography. This investigation involves research on density dependence, compensatory and additive mortality, uncertainty, and social disruptions, e.g., sexually selected infanticide. I am particularly interested in the Hydra Effect that emerges from an interaction between density dependence and harvesting. A variety of effects of hunting have been documented, but the extent and significance of these for management have not been synthesized. In addition, we have built models that can be used by Alberta Environment & Park’s staff to evaluate alternative harvest policies, in particular those for elk developed by M.Sc. student Tyler Trump. Mariana Nagy Baldy dos Reis studied models for optimizing harvests of white-tailed deer in North Dakota, and Simone Ciuti continues to study recruitment of mule deer in North Dakota.
4. Carbon sequestration and conservation.
Ecosystems provide many services, including carbon sequestration. We are particularly keen on the role that native grasslands can play in sequestering carbon into the soil, potentially offering an avenue for grassland conservation funded by carbon credits. Timm Döbert was a postdoc who continues to work with colleagues JC Cahill, Scott Chang, Cameron Carlyle, and Edward Bork on an evaluation of adaptive multi-paddock and other grazing practices in Canada’s Great Plains and Aspen Parkland. Support from the Society for Conservation Biology has sponsored a related project on avian diversity on Canada’s grasslands.
5. Sea wolves in the coastal archipelago of British Columbia.
Michelle Hoang is working with Dr. Ramona Maraj to collaborate with researchers in Alaska on a new study of wolves in coastal environments. Concerns about human-wolf conflicts with First Nations motivated the research and we are intrigued by the ecology of these amazing animals in places that I would not have associated with wolves.
Principles of population ecology as they apply to plants and animals; population consequences of variation among individuals; habitat structure and population structure; habitat selection and foraging theory; life tables, demography, and the evolution of life history patterns; population dynamics; interactions among organisms (predation, competition, mutualism); and population regulation. Prerequisites: BIOL 208; any one of MATH 113, 114, 115, 120, 125 or SCI 100; STAT 151 or SCI 151.