Research in the WildCo Lab is motivated by the fundamental question of how best to conserve, manage, and restore biodiversity in a rapidly changing, human-dominated world. Our research aims to be grounded in ecological principles and quantitative rigour, while incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives that are a critical part of conservation science. We have diverse research interests that centre broadly on the applied ecology of terrestrial mammal populations, communities, and habitats.

We recognize that our research takes place on the traditional territories of many Indigenous Peoples (in western and northern Canada and around the world) and we aspire to meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities and support of reconciliation efforts through the implementation and application of our research. We emphasize the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in research and academia, and we aspire to practice and support collaborative, inclusive, and open science.

Our current research themes include:

Mammal community dynamics in altered ecosystems

Despite their important ecological and cultural roles and values, many terrestrial mammal populations are threatened by a range of anthropogenic stressors, including hunting, habitat loss, and climate change. Other mammals successfully exploit anthropogenic environments due to changes in habitat suitability or predation pressure. Wildlife management has typically focused on single-species assessments and actions, yet a fuller accounting of wildlife “winners and losers” is needed for effective landscape-level conservation. Our research looks across species, scales, and stressors to seek general principles in wildlife population regulation and community structure within altered ecosystems. We use multispecies survey tools and coordinated distributed surveys to capitalize on large-scale management experiments, both planned and unplanned.

Current and recent projects under this theme include:

  • Responses of larger-bodied mammals to industrial land uses, habitat restoration, and other management efforts in northern Alberta and British Columbia.
  • The effectiveness of woodland caribou recovery strategies in restoring mammal community dynamics.
  • The impacts of parks and human footprint on mammal functional diversity across local, regional and global scales.
  • Impacts of recreation on mammal communities and threatened species in parks.
  • Predicting responses of mammal communities to climate change and other stressors in northern environments.


Coexisting with large carnivores

Large mammalian carnivores represent a particular challenge for wildlife management. They can generate significant support for conservation and their loss may cause cascading effects through an ecosystem. However, carnivore populations require large, interconnected habitats with abundant prey, and frequently create conflict with remote or expanding human communities. Coexisting with carnivores therefore requires a landscape-level perspective alongside effective approaches for resolving conflicts and mitigating risks to people and prey. Navigating inevitable trade-offs necessitates reliable information on carnivore ecology in degraded and managed landscapes, as well as on human behaviours and tolerance of carnivores.

 Our current and recent carnivore coexistence projects include:
  • The effects of forest practices on grizzly bears in British Columbia.
  • Understanding conflict and coexistence between people and large carnivores along the urban-wildland interfaces and recreation landscapes of southwestern British Columbia .
  • Assessing coexistence between leopards and farmers in Sri Lanka.
  • Density and distribution of brown (grizzly) bears within human-impacted landscapes in western Canada and the Caucasus region.
  • Carnivore connectivity and persistence in fragmented forests of northern Peru and southern Ecuador. **Looking for camera-trap carnivore records – submit here**
  • Andean bear conservation in Peru.
  • The effectiveness of protected areas for conserving lions, leopards, and other carnivores in West Africa.

Wildlife population estimation and monitoring

Reliable data on animal distribution and abundance are required to advance ecological inquiry and guide wildlife management. Data must be collected at appropriately large spatial and temporal scales to capture relevant processes for wide-ranging species and regional planning. Robust models are needed to project inferences into unsampled space and time, and inherent uncertainty must be transparently acknowledged and ultimately reduced. To strengthen inferences on wildlife dynamics, research in the WildCo Lab evaluates and integrates multiple sampling methods—including camera trapping, genetic tagging, remote sensing, and telemetry—and uses comparative analysis and simulation modelling to separate ecological signals from sampling noise. We apply advanced quantitative tools—such as spatially explicit capture-recapture and machine learning models—to disentangle complexities inherent in ecological data, and we collect new data designed to test model predictions. Our lab has a strong interest in improving the effectiveness of ecological monitoring and we are working to develop and implement a framework combining broad surveillance of cumulative effects with targeted assessments of hypotheses linked to management decisions. Our research also focuses on evaluating and effectively using participatory monitoring and citizen science to expand coverage and engage the public in wildlife science.

A key focus of our methodological research focuses on the effective use of camera trapping as a non-invasive wildlife survey tool. We have helped to launch a new camera trap network (WildCAM) to develop, test, and share rigorous methods for improving standardization and synthesis across camera trap studies.
We are also interested in developing effective biodiversity monitoring systems across large spatial scales. A particular current focus includes deployment of sensor networks (camera traps, acoustic recorders) for monitoring of Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Assessing and advancing conservation effectiveness

In order for our research to have the greatest impact, we strive to link our science to societal needs. We believe that wildlife research should be integrated with monitoring and management, such that potential management decisions are represented as hypotheses to be evaluated with predictive models and tested with monitoring data. An integrated cycle of prediction, monitoring, and testing can be used to optimize decision-making, for instance in regulating harvest or restoring degraded habitats. Researchers in WildCo seek to work collaboratively with government, industry, First Nations, local communities, and other partners on long-term research that supports efforts to balance competing demands on landscapes and ecosystems. Examples include developing wildlife-habitat models for application to land-use planning, and testing wildlife responses to land-use decisions. We are grateful to the many collaborators and partners who make this research possible.


Our research also evaluates the effectiveness of protected areas, which represent a fundamental conservation strategy around the world. Many parks face mounting pressure due to increasing isolation and human impact, and there is a need to improve park effectiveness by detecting threats and identifying successful mitigations that work for both parks and people.  Our research seeks to assess the ability of parks to effectively conserve threatened species and communities, evaluate the outcomes of management strategies in and around parks (including community-based conservation), and anticipate broad-scale threats to park networks in the face of global change. We also recognize that protected areas must work for the people who live in or around them: the challenges of human-wildlife coexistence extend to all landscapes. We are particularly interested in the increasing recognition of Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas as an approach to conservation and reconciliation in Canada, and we are also interested in community-based conservation efforts around the world that promote wildlife conservation and sustainable livelihoods.