People

 

Cole Burton

Dr. Cole Burton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Resources Management, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Terrestrial Mammal Conservation, 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 and hierarchical modelling.

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Research scientists and post-docs | PhD students | Masters students | Undergrads & Techs

Scientists and post-docs

Jacqui Sunderland-Groves

Jacqui Sunderland-Groves joined the Department of Forest Resources Management in April 2018 as a Research Scientist. Holding an MPhil. in Conservation Biology from the University of Sussex, Jacqui has worked in West-Central Africa and Asia since 1995, specializing in great ape ecology and conservation related research, reintroduction and management of complex conservation programs. A significant part of Jacqui’s research has focused on the distribution, ecology and conservation of Cross River gorillas in Cameroon, where she established a long-term research and conservation project. More recently her work extended to Indonesia and the reintroduction of over 330 wild Bornean orangutans in Kalimantan. Her research interests focus on great ape conservation challenges and seeking lasting solutions to abate those.

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Catherine Sun

Dr. Cat Sun is a postdoctoral researcher, and joined the WildCo Lab in September 2019. Her research on wildlife populations focuses on understanding the spatial patterns and mechanisms of density, distribution, and dynamics to inform management and conservation. She specializes in spatial capture-recapture and hierarchical modeling, with interests also including citizen science, population genetics, and methods development. Cat earned her Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, USA, where she studied the spatial heterogeneity of black bear density and large-scale monitoring approaches.

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Chris Beirne

Chris is a post-doc who works on how wildlife communities respond to anthropogenic disturbance and, ultimately, the implications of such changes. He has spent over 6 years living and working in areas of extreme biodiversity, including Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru and Gabon. He is now applying his skills to the biodiversity of extreme environments (Northern Alberta). Chris is passionate about open access science, reproducible research and doughnut consumption.

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Gonçalo Curveira Santos

Dr. Gonçalo Curveira-Santos is a postdoctoral researcher in the WildCo Lab since January 2022. He has broad interests in the interface between ecological theory and the development of wildlife management and conservation strategies. His research focuses on terrestrial mammal species and community-level wildlife responses to environmental change and conservation management options, particularly within the context of predator-predator and predator-prey ecology. Gonçalo earned his Ph.D. degree from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where he studied the ecology of South African carnivore assemblages under multi-tenure conservation estates and large-predator-driven management concepts.

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Solene Marion

Dr Solène Marion joined the WildCo Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2022. She earned her Ph.D. in geography from the University of St Andrews (Scotland), where she investigated the spatio-temporal interaction between red deer and hikers in the Scottish Highlands. Before that, she obtained her MSc in Ecosystem ecology from the University of Montpellier (France), where she studied honeybees’ health population under multiple stressors. Overall, Solène is passionate about understanding complex ecological systems with anthropogenic pressure. Her research uses camera trapping, GPS tracking, and GIS to understand how outdoor activities impact the spatio-temporal distribution of wildlife.

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Research scientists and post-docs | PhD students | Masters students |Undergrads & Techs

PhD students

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 population and community dynamics, including 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.

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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.

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Tazarve Gharajehdaghipour

Taz started her PhD in 2020. Her research seeks to understand the extent of bottom-up and top-down effects of forest harvesting and natural disturbances on the rapidly declining Itcha Ilgachuz caribou herd. Taz completed her M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Manitoba, and earned her B.Sc. in Biology from McGill University. Prior to joining WildCo she worked with Panthera conducting camera trap surveys for Critically Endangered Indochinese leopards in remote Cambodia. She has also worked as a Data Analyst on several projects on radio-collared black-backed and golden jackals for the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (University of Oxford), and with the migratory landbird monitoring program in Alberta oil sands for the Canadian Wildlife Service.

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Research scientists and post-docs | PhD students | Masters students | Undergrads & Techs

Masters students

Michael Procko

Michael is a MSc student who joined WildCo in the summer of 2019. Originally from Colorado, he graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (magna cum laude) and a minor in Philosophy. Michael’s undergraduate research focused primarily on quantitative conservation biology, studying apex carnivore population fluctuations via population viability analyses. His research history also includes assisting on landscape ecology studies focused on post-fire regeneration in mixed-conifer forests throughout the Blue Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Michael is now studying the effects of recreation and forest harvest on large-bodied terrestrial mammals in protected areas and adjacent landscapes.

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Christopher Stinson

Within the last few years there has been a shift in the species of marten found in North America. Martes caurina, the Pacific Marten, has been re-elevated to species level. With Martes americana, the American Marten, there are now two species of marten on the continent. I want to find out what is going on where they meet in British Columbia.  I am a MSc student that joined the WildCO Lab in September 2019 and also Curatorial Assistant of Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.   I am using museum specimens and recently obtained trapped animals to determine the differences between the species.  Through a combination of classical linear measurements and 3D photogrammetry techniques, I am analyzing the cranio-morphological differences and using genetics to dig into what is happening where these two small carnivores meet in BC.

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Mitch Fennell

Mitch is an MSc student in the lab who originally joined WildCo in September 2018 as a directed studies student, developing models for predicting differential predation by wolves based on GPS movement data, in collaboration with Banff National Park. Originally from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, he graduated from UBC in May 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Biology. His past experience includes working on a bison reintroduction project, maintaining large camera networks, managing human-wildlife conflict in Banff National Park, and as a Mesocarnivore Technician with the BC Ministry of Environment. Mitch’s research occurs on the territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation in Cathedral Provincial Park, where he is investigating the relationships between human recreation and wildlife habitat use, as well as estimating mountain goat density using camera traps.

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Laura Stewart

Laura joined WildCo in January 2021. She will be working with local and government partners to help create a long-term wildlife monitoring protocol on on Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta Indigenous protected area near Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories. The project will integrate mammal monitoring using camera traps and songbird monitoring using autonomous recording units (ARUs). Laura will be investigating what monitoring scheme is best for camera traps and ARUs to work together, and how small-scale monitoring can fit into larger monitoring programs that operate across the continent.

Katie Tjaden-McClement

Katie started her MSc in the WildCo Lab in September 2021, after previously completing her undergraduate honours thesis in the lab investigating camera trapping of small mammals compared to livetrapping and working as a research technician on various projects in the lab. Her masters research will focus on species interactions between the Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd, other ungulates in the system including moose, mule deer, and free-ranging horses, and predators. She will be evaluating the role of apparent competition as a driver of caribou population decline in conjunction with forest harvesting, fires, and other habitat disturbances occurring in the Chilcotin Plateau.

Madeleine Wrazej

Madeleine is a new MSc student in the lab who started in September 2021. Her research will focus on the use of non-invasive stress hormone analysis to examine human impact on mountain goats. She will be working in collaboration with Parks Canada with the aim of informing mountain goat conservation and management decisions within the Mountain National Parks. Madeleine graduated from the University of Victoria in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science. Before joining WildCo, she worked for Parks Canada conducting ecological monitoring. This included amphibian occupancy monitoring, forest and alpine bird acoustic monitoring, maintaining a large wildlife camera trap network, and reporting on the ecological integrity of the parks.

 

Research scientists and post-docs | PhD students | Masters students | Undergrads & Techs

Undergraduates & Research Technicians

Eve Hurd

Eve is in her third year of studying Natural Resource Conservation. She joined the WildCo Lab in May 2021 as an undergraduate research assistant, and she is looking forward to being involved with a number of research projects in the lab. Currently, Eve is working with MSc student Laura Stewart on processing images from the camera trap network on Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta Indigenous protected area near Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories. Eve is interested in restoration ecology and understanding the impact of human recreation on wildlife and ecosystem functioning. She is looking forward to learning more about wildlife conservation alongside other lab members at WildCo.

Lucas Friesen

Lucas is in his 3rd year of the Forest Sciences program. He joined the WildCo lab in September of 2021 as a research assistant. Lucas has enjoyed being part of a team working on camera trap image processing in various BC Provincial Parks as well as working with MSc student Mitch Fennel on his project in Cathedral Provincial Park. He is interested in learning more about the human impact on wildlife and their habitats as well as the role environmental policy can play in protecting our BC Provincial parks.

Vaniartha Vaniartha

Vania is a fourth-year student in the Natural Resources Conservation program who joined Wildco in September 2021 as an undergraduate research assistant. She is currently assisting Dr. Cat Sun in analyzing vegetation phenology in provincial parks across BC using R. Her interest lies in using data analysis techniques to inform conservation planning and management decisions. She is excited to advance her R data analysis skills and learn more about wildlife conservation projects from the lab.