sboutinStan Boutin, Professor and Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair

 My long-term objective is to make significant advances in our fundamental understanding of how ecological variation affects phenotypic plasticity, evolution and population dynamics. I work on basic and applied systems that show extreme natural variation in important drivers or are undergoing significant human- and climate-induced change.

The second part of my research program is the result of my NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Landscape Management (2000-2012) whose objective is to provide decision-makers with the information and tools necessary to make ecologically-informed landuse decisions.  I now hold an Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair and the lab is focused on making ecological research relevant to society by tackling pressing conservation issues related to human landuse and climate change.  I work in the heart of the Alberta Oil Sands where the conservation challenges are immense and the economic stakes are high, creating the opportunity to study large-scale systems undergoing rapid human-induced change.  A “poster child” for this situation is the woodland caribou whose threatened status and large-scale habitat requirements make it an interesting case that challenges Canada’s SARA. Through a major effort to build collaborations with industry and government, Alberta now has the most comprehensive picture of woodland caribou population dynamics in the country.  My lab has done the foundational research to determine the proximate cause of widespread declines and we have proposed innovative conservation actions. Although the core of the project is applied, we have also tested ecological theory involving predator-mediated Allee effects, apparent competition and landscape genetics.  We are now at a critical stage of the caribou recovery process in Alberta creating the opportunity to implement and monitor a series of innovative recovery experiments.

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Scott NScott Nielsen, Associate Professor & Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair

Scott is the associate professor of conservation biology in the Department of Renewable Resources. He is also one of the two new Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chairs at the University of Alberta; he and Dr. Stan Boutin are both directing research projects focused on key biodiversity challenges related to the energy sector. When he’s not blissfully engrossed in his research projects, Scott enjoys canoeing, experimenting with perennial agriculture, woodlot management and prairie restoration on his northwest Wisconsin farm, and most of all spending time with his family.

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