Integrated Social-Ecological Research

Overview of theme:

Social ecology is the study of the relationships between people and their environment, often the interdependence of people, collectives, and institutions. In our lab, we integrate approaches from both social and ecological (and more broadly environmental) sciences to tackle complex environmental and conservation issues. We do this by collaborating with academics and non-academics towards a solution-oriented approach. Almost all our projects are partnered with knowledge users to ensure our work is relevant, legitimate, and applicable. It is not possible for one discipline or knowledge system to solve wicked problems. By working together with relevant stakeholders and rightsholders, and with different knowledge systems and disciplines, we strive for more socially and ecologically robust solutions.


Human-turtle interactions and disturbances from water-based recreational activities

Freshwater turtle populations are vulnerable to human impacts because of their life history traits, where even small disturbances can lead to major population declines. To protect these vulnerable species, we need to better understand the risks and benefits of interactions between people and turtle. For this project, we are particularly interested in interactions through water-based recreation (cottaging, boating, fishing, etc.) and provide evidence for best practices and mitigative strategies applied to freshwater recreational activities.

Transformative Risk Assessment and Forest Resilience (TRIA-FoR) for the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak

The mountain pine beetle (MPB) has killed more than 20 M hectares of mainly lodgepole pine forests in western Canada over the past two decades. Factors linked to climate change and forest management have led to range expansion of MPB into novel habitats. We aim to use an interdisciplinary approach to develop knowledge, tools and frameworks that can support the mitigation of risk of MPB epidemic and build resiliency.  

GenFish: Genomic Network for Fish Identification, Stress and Health

GEN-FISH is a team of researchers, professionals, and community-members who are working to determine the location and abundance of Canada’s 200+ freshwater fish species, and measure how they are performing in the face of increasing (mostly human-caused) stressors. The team has proposed several toolkits (Fish Survey Toolkit, Fish Health Toolkit and Decision-Guiding Toolkit using environmental DNA and genomics technology and approaches to provide more affordable and reliable methods for surveying fish

Other Projects

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Indigenous Knowledge Documentation of Aquatic Ecosystems in Hudson Bay

As climate change continues to impact ecosystems globally, the Canadian Arctic is experiencing this change at a rate of at least twice as much as the global average. These climate-associated changes impact both the ecosystems and the Inuit communities in this region who depend on this surrounding environment for a variety of reasons including tradition, culture, and subsistence hunting and fishing practices.

Inuit and Southern perspectives on a long-term environmental monitoring partnership in the Arctic

Collaboration with local Inuit communities has been key to the success of ECCC coastal surveys. Ecological knowledge of eiders and their marine environment as well as the navigation skills of Inuit hunters have contributed greatly to the design, safety, productivity, and efficiency of the surveys. Moreover, Inuit communities are often interested in participating because of their reliance on seabirds as an important source of food. This is a key reason why local Inuit made up the majority of the survey field crews over the years.