Plant ecology plant behaviour community ecology conservation biology
Due to hiring freezes throughout the early 1990's, I am now one of the senior professors in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. This is not an event anyone would have planned for, but it is what we now have. On the upside, I genuinely try to work for the public good, I care about undergraduate and graduate training, and I am still excited about discovery. I feel very grateful to be supported by taxpayer and tuition dollars to learn things no one in the history of the world has ever known before. I work hard to translate these discoveries to whoever may care to hear about them.
Current Research Interests
Research in the lab addresses a diversity of fundamental questions in plant ecology. We take a broad approach to research, with interest in plant behavioural ecology, biodiversity and community assembly, herbivory, plant social interactions (including competition), mycorrhizae, species invastion, climate change. Honestly, if its an interesting question I sure would like to know the answer.
This lab predominately uses an experimental approach to understanding. We enjoy the 'kick-the-tires' approach, utilizing it in both natural communities (e.g. native grasslands), and mesocosms (e.g. growth rooms and greenhouses). As a group, we test questions spanning the evolutionary and ecological spectrum, but in pursuit of basic understanding and to meet a given public need.
I am generally open to new students who are curious, and even more new curious students who can secure external funding. Please visit my lab home page to find out about any opportunities for graduate study. I am always interested in hearing from prospective graduate students at both the M.Sc. and PhD. level, as well as potential postdoctoral fellows and undergraduates. Admissions, and most funding sources, are available to students regardless of nationality.
Laboratory of Experimental Plant Ecology
My teaching focuses on enabling students to take personal responsibility for their learning. I provide a diversity to tools and information for students in the classroom and the lab, and work with them to use these tools to achieve their desired goals. Students who prefer the history of science be provided to them (e.g. textbook facts) will be woefully disappointed in my courses.
Plants and animals have a long co-evolutionary history, and this course explores many of the ways in which plants and animals use and abuse each other. Specific topics include pollination biology, herbivory, and dispersal. Emphasis is on both the evolutionary ecology and ecological implications of these interactions. Prerequisite: BIOL 331 or 332 or BOT 332 or ZOOL 371.Winter Term 2022
Study of the local factors that limit plant growth, reproduction, and diversity. Particular emphasis on the mechanisms by which plants interact with their local environment and the effects of these interactions on diversity and community functioning. Specific topics include plant foraging, germination ecology, mechanisms of competition and facilitation, patterns of diversity, and community stability. Prerequisites: BIOL 208 and STAT 151 or SCI 151. BOT 205 recommended. Credit cannot be obtained for both BOT 332 and 532. This course requires payment of additional miscellaneous fees. Refer to the Tuition and Fees page in the University Regulations section of the Calendar.Fall Term 2021
Study of the ecological processes which influence plant growth and fitness, species diversity, and ecosystem function. The lecture and required assignments emphasize critical thinking, scientific communication, intellectual creativity, and active participation by students. Lectures are the same as BOT 332, but with additional assignments and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisite: Consent of department. Prior coursework in ecology and plant biology are recommended. Credit cannot be obtained for both BOT 332 and 532.Fall Term 2021