WildCo has grown! Our current members: Cole Burton (PI), Joanna Burgar (postdoc), Cindy Hurtado (PhD), Cheng Chen (PhD), Erin Tattersall (MSc), Joanna van Bommel (MSc), Aisha Uduman (MSc), Dacyn Hollinda (BSc Honours).

Cole Burton

Dr. Cole Burton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest Resources Management and the Principal Investigator of the WildCo Lab. Cole has worked collaboratively with governments, industries, ENGOs, and academics in Canada and around the world. He has an M.Sc. in Zoology from UBC and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Cole’s research is motivated by the challenge of human-wildlife coexistence on a crowded planet and he specializes in studying terrestrial mammal responses to changing environments using innovative methods such as camera “traps”.

Joanna Burgar

Dr. Joanna Burgar joined the lab as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2017. Joanna specializes in wildlife and restoration ecology; her main interest area is wildlife interactions across human influenced landscapes, particularly the use of applied ecology and adaptive management to conserve biodiversity. Her research examines the interconnectedness of species interactions and how shifts in species abundance and community composition vary across landscapes. Joanna received a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Murdoch University, Australia, and M.Sc. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from Oxford University, UK. Joanna recently spent two years working as a Wildlife Biologist for the Government of Alberta, Lower Athabasca Region. Her current research estimates the density of unmarked mammal species using advanced spatial capture-recapture models.

Cheng Chen

Biodiversity conservation can no longer focus only on preserving and restoring ecosystems of the past. Because humans are now a major geological and environmental force as important as natural forces of the Earth, we can no longer treat natural systems as separate from human systems. My current research interest is to understand how human disturbance and conservation implements would affect large mammal’s population, communication dynamics and the ecology and evolution of species interactions. I received my M.Sc. in wildlife conservation from University of British Columbia (thesis: Factors affecting the efficacy of biodiversity conservation in tropical protected areas: a case study in Xishuangbanna, southwestern China) and a B.Sc. from Nanjing Agricultural University, China.

Cindy Hurtado

Cindy joined the lab as a PhD student in September 2017. Her research interests are in the areas of species distribution, landscape ecology, and mammal conservation. Cindy has worked on several projects in Peru that include small and large mammal monitoring with trapping techniques as well as non-invasive methods (camera trapping, scat collection, track plates). She has also worked in mammal conservation projects in Peru and Argentina, specifically with carnivores in the dry forest ecosystem and with reintroduction of collared peccaries in the Atlantic forest. Cindy obtained her Bachelor degree in Peru and a Masters Degree from Towson University, USA.

Joanna van Bommel

Joanna is a MSc student who joined the WildCo lab in September 2017. She graduated with a BSc Hons. in Environmental Biology from the University of Saskatchewan, studying the behavioural ecology of feral horse bands on Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Prior to that, Joanna spent a summer as an intern at the South African Shark Conservancy researching endemic shyshark feeding behaviour and conversion efficiency. Joanna is now looking to study areas of human/mammalian carnivore overlap in the Greater Victoria Area. Her project will examine species distribution and relative abundance to gain an understanding of where conflict may occur, and devise solutions for the coexistence of livestock and predators.

Erin Tattersall

My research interests focus on mammal community ecology and responses to anthropogenic disturbances. My current research project uses camera traps to monitor large boreal mammals in a seismic line network in northeastern Alberta. Energy extraction in this region has a significant impact on mammal population dynamics, altering species distributions and land use. This is of particular concern for threatened woodland caribou herds. My project examines how caribou predators interact within a seismic line network, as well as how seismic line restoration efforts affect mammal community interactions. My past research experience includes completing an Honor’s thesis at McMaster University, studying wound healing in the wing membranes of captive big brown bats.

Aisha Uduman

Broadly, my research interests include using science to inform ecosystem conservation, resource management and to identify and promote practical methods to foster greater human-wildlife coexistence in increasingly shared landscapes. My MSc research looks at the expanding dairy industry in Sri Lanka, and explores its effects on a) forest cover and habitat degradation, b) Sri Lankan leopard prey dynamics and resource availability and c) finding potential methods of sustainable cattle husbandry which act to reduce instances of leopard-livestock conflict. The research outcomes can help shed light on the methods, techniques and considerations to employ when facing the inevitable dilemma of how to reduce carnivore-livestock conflicts within shared landscapes. Economic development and poverty alleviation are essential, but they must allow for coexistence with species (e.g. leopard) that compete with humans for habitat and potential prey (e.g. cattle).

Dacyn Holinda

I am a fourth year Honours Ecology student who joined the lab in May 2017. My primary research interests lie in the field of conservational ecology, specifically in the exploration of the anthropogenic impacts on mammalian ecosystems. My current thesis project involves studying the impact that bait and habitat can have on influencing the detectability of camera traps. Baiting camera traps is a common technique used by researchers in the hopes of increasing detection of focal species. The impacts of baited vs non-baited camera traps on detectability is not well known. A better understanding of how bait, along with habitat changes across camera sites, influences detection rates will help future research methodology and the protection of conservational species of interest.



An action shot from spring field work in northern Alberta:

Algar Wildlife Monitoring Field Team, April 2017