Mark Boyce, BS, MS, MPhil, PhD, CWB, FRSC

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences

Contact

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Email
boyce@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 492-0081
Address
1-271 Centennial Ctr For Interdisciplinary SCS II
11335 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H5

Overview

Research

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. Jenny Foca is examining extensive camera trap data from Elk Island National Park and adjacent Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area relating these data to abundance of 5 species of ungulates.  Grace Enns is studying stone sheep in the Cassiar Mountains of NW British Columbia to document seasonal movements and habitat selection.  Camille Warbington is using 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.


2. Cougar Population Ecology and Prey Selection.
We have 2 M.Sc. students, Samantha Widmeyerand Meghan Beale, studying cougar behaviour and ecology with special focus on their predation on bighorns. Field studies are focused on the Cadomin area south of Hinton, Alberta.  Working with Paul Frame from Alberta Environment and Parks, Samantha will evaluate the efficacy of extended cougar hunting seasons in mountain units of western Alberta, and is examining stable isotopes to characterize diets. Meghan is monitoring radio-collared cougars to detect prey.


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 Environment & Parks staff to evaluate alternative harvest policies, in particular those for elk being developed by M.Sc. student Tyler Trump and for mountain sheep by Mark BoyceMariana Nagy Baldy dos Reis is studying models for optimizing harvests of white-tailed 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, with funding from the Canadian federal Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Program.  is studying plant diversity in context of carbon sequestration and storage.  Timm Doebert is a postdoc who will synthesize an evaluation of adaptive multi-paddock and other grazing practices in Canada’s Great Plains and Aspen Parkland.  A Research Associate, Bharat Shrestha, is studying greenhouse gas exchange on a sample of ranches in Alberta.  Kira Dlusskaya will be developing protocols for ranchers that maximize carbon sequestration and storage based on grazing practices.  Support from the Society for Conservation Biology is sponsoring a related project on avian diversity on Canada’s grasslands.


5. Predation effects on waterfowl production.
Working with Delta Waterfowl, Emily Blythe is pursuing a M.Sc. studying the effect of mesocarnivores, particularly striped skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and corvids, on duck nesting success in central Alberta near Buffalo Lake and another study area near Viking, Alberta. In addition, Delta has installed hen houses to reduce waterfowl nest predation. We will be estimating resource selection functions to model the habitat associations of nest predation.


6. Barren-ground caribou in Nunavut.
Conor Mallory is a biologist with the Wildlife Department of the Government of Nunavut, on leave to pursue a Ph.D. in the Boyce lab to study reasons for decline of 3 arctic populations of caribou.  One hypothesis relates to the timing of caribou migration relative to the phenology of greenup of vegetation at calving grounds, and how this might be affected by climate change.

Courses

BIOL 331 - Population Ecology

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.

Winter Term 2021

Publications

Ecosystem Management: Applications for Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Resources
Author(s): Mark S. Boyce, Alan Haney
Publication Date: 1997
Publication: Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

Nature vs. nurture: Evidence for social learning of conflict behaviour in grizzly bears.
Author(s): Morehouse, A., T. Graves, N. Mikle, M. S. Boyce
Publication: PLoS ONE
Volume: 11
Issue: 11
Page Numbers: e0165425
External Link: doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0165425
Extent-dependent habitat selection in a migratory large herbivore: road avoidance across scales
Author(s): Prokopenko, C., Boyce, M. S., Avgar, T.
Publication: Landscape Ecology
Volume: 32
Page Numbers: 313-325
External Link: DOI 10.1007/s10980-016-0451-1