Colleen St Clair, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences


Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
(780) 492-9685
B 522 Bio Science - Botany Wing
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9


Area of Study / Keywords

Behavioural Ecology Conservation Biology Urban Ecology Human-wildlife Conflict and Coexistence



B.Sc. with Distinction, University of Alberta 1988

M.Sc. with Distinction, University of Canterbury 1990

Ph.D. University of Oklahoma 1995

Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Alberta 1995-1997

CV Highlights

  • University of Alberta academic staff member since 1998
  • Led several dozen graduate student research projects that included partners in government (civic, provincial, federal), industry (forestry, agriculture, oil and gas), ENGOs, and citizens
  • Competitive research funding awarded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (Canada) from 1999 – present, and other sources exceeding $3 million
  • Author of over 100 papers in the scientific literature, 13 reports for government and / or industry, 13 invited, editor-reviewed articles for lay audiences; Google Scholar metrics of >7000 citations, h-index = 45, i10 index = 83 (to 1 January 2024)
  • Provided dozens of media interviews annually (local, national, international)
  • Supervisor of 5 Postdoctoral Fellows, 13 Ph.D. students, 19 M.Sc. students, 38 UG project students, and over 100 technicians and volunteers
  • Instructor of Behavioural Ecology (Zool 371), Conservation Biology (Biol 367, Biol 468), Advanced Ecology (Biol 603), Terrestrial Field Ecology (Biol 434), Introduction to Biological Research (Bio 298)
  • Provide diverse ongoing service to my department, faculty, university, city, province, country, non-government organizations, Canadian public, and international scientific societies
  • Engage hundreds of people annually via outreach and citizen science opportunities


I'm interested in the interface between Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Biology in the growing discipline of Conservation Behaviour. My students and I try to solve specific problems in wildlife conservation and management by applying behavioural principles and methods, often by understanding or manipulating habitat cues, individual motivation, or animal learning. Research publications are available here and most of these studies address the two main themes below.

Movement Behaviour in Fragmented Habitats. We study how animals move through and select habitat in landscapes that have been altered by humans with an emphasis on features that impede movement (barriers) and facilitate it (corridors). These studies have addressed birds, small mammals, ungulates, and carnivores in urban, rural, and natural areas. Study sites have ranged from local (Edmonton's river valley and the Canadian Rockies), to distant (Costa Rica and India). 

Human-wildlife conflict. A frequent consequence of successful use by wildlife of human-dominated landscapes is conflict with people. We've studied sources of and solutions for HWC in several species of birds and mammals. Avian examples include adaptations by urban birds and waterfowl protection in the oil sands region. Other work has focused on urban-adapting and habituated mammals, including coyotes, cougars, bears, and elk. 

Current projects include the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project, the Canmore Corridor Project, and the Cowichan Valley Elk Project

Recent projects include Grizzly Bears and Trains, Habituated Ungulates, and Bird Protection in the Oil Sands Region.


Recent Courses

Biology 367 Conservation Biology

Biol 468 Topics in Conservation Biology  

Biology 603 Advanced Ecology

Some comments on the Candidacy Exam

Tips for early career researchers on mentoring graduate students


I am on sabbatical in the 2023-24 academic year. I may be slower to respond to emails and I will not be accepting new undergraduate or graduate students until Fall 2024.

Interested in graduate studies? I typically accept one or two new graduate students each year. I look for students who have relevant research experience in wildlife conservation and animal behaviour, an honours average in their undergraduate degrees (GPA > 3.5), and excellent letters of recommendation from past supervisors. I do not reply to formulaic requests for supervision or those far outside my research areas. 

Interested in volunteering with our research? We engage students and community members in our research as often as possible with a goal of providing experience, skill development, and an opportunity to contribute to research relevant to public interest in return for assistance. We deeply appreciate the hundreds of individuals and thousands of hours that have supported our past research. 


BIOL 468 - Topics in Conservation Biology

Seminar and reading course addressing current topics in conservation biology. Prerequisites: BIOL 367 or REN R 364 or consent of instructor.

BIOL 603 - Advanced Ecology

Designed for new graduate students in environmental biology to foster critical thinking and discussion and to introduce them to issues of experimental design and analysis and different approaches to ecology. The course involves student discussion of papers, lectures by faculty members on their research, seminars by students and a written assignment. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Preference will be given to students in Biological Sciences.

BIOL 631 - Seminar in Ecology and Evolution

Credit may be obtained more than once.

Browse more courses taught by Colleen St Clair

Scholarly Activities

Research - Awards

  • ASTech Award for Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Sustainability – Innovative Applications (2022 with Jonathan Backs and John Nychka)
  • William Rowan Distinguished Service Award, Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society (2021)
  • Richard Buchholz Conservation Behavior Award, Animal Behaviour Society (2020)
  • Communities in Bloom Heritage Award (2019 with Catherine Shier and Cassie Stevenson)
  • Faculty of Science Mentor Award, University of Alberta (2019)
  • Technical Publication of the Year Award, Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society (2018 with Jonathan Backs and John Nychka)
  • Faculty of Science Research Fellowship, University of Alberta (2017-2022)
  • Distinguished Professor Award, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (2017) 
  • Award of Recognition, Alberta Trappers Association (2010)
  • Conservation Award, Edmonton Nature Club (2007)
  • Killam Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta (1995-1997)
  • James Thompson Teaching Award, University of Oklahoma (1995)
  • National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (1993)
  • Centennial Research Assistantship, University of Oklahoma (1990-1994)
  • Stocker Scholarship, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, New Zealand (1989)
  • Alexander Rutherford Scholarship, Alberta (1983)

Research - Current Graduate Students

  • Peter Thompson (PDF)
  • Chloe Nicol (M.Sc.)
  • Kate Rutherford (M.Sc.)
  • Abby Keller (M.Sc.) 
  • Sage Raymond (Ph.D.)

Research - Funding

Current Research Funding

Research Funding within the past 10 years

  • Alberta Conservation Association
  • Alberta Justice
  • Canadian Pacific / Parks Canada Joint Initiative for Grizzly Bear Conservation
  • Faculty of Science, University of Alberta
  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Parks Canada

Research - Media

Type my name and select news on your browser to see recent media interviews. 

Research - Publications

A list of publications can be found on Google Scholar here. Sort by year to see recent work first. Most publications are available via open access; contact Colleen at cstclair[at] to request a pdf if you cannot obtain it otherwise.