Ellise Proctor

Email: ellisep[at]mun[dot]ca

Supervisor: Dr. Carissa Brown

Research Groups: Northern EDGE Lab

Previous Education: BSc (Hon.) in Environmental Science, Co-op - Major Ecology, University of Guelph (2020)
Project: TBD

Project title: Forest management alternatives to prescribed burning in Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador 

Project description: Terra Nova National Park (TNNP), NL, is dominated by the fire adapted tree species, black spruce (Picea mariana). This species relies on fire to open its cones and release its seeds, as well as reduce soil organic matter (SOM) thickness for successful regeneration. However, over the last century, active fire suppression in TNNP has greatly reduced black spruce regeneration. As a result, TNNP lacks early and middle stage succession with a large representation of over-mature stands. Additionally, Kalmia angustifolia, a common ericaceous shrub, establishes in the absence of fire and actively excludes black spruce regeneration by altering soil properties. This has caused several areas in TNNP to convert from black spruce stands to Kalmia barrens. Both issues have significantly negatively impacted forest productivity, structure, and composition, as well as ecological integrity. Outlined by the Parks Canada Mandate, TNNP has a responsibility to protect its ecological integrity with black spruce being a dominant species in the landscape. Additionally, several species at risk within TNNP rely on black spruce as a food and habitat source. TNNP has attempted to introduce prescribed burning to promote black spruce regeneration, however these burns are not reducing enough SOM to create a suitable seedbed and burning can only be used in remote areas where black spruce is notdominant. TNNP is highly interested in implementing alternative managements to prescribed burning to promote black spruce regeneration, such as scarification, planting seeds and seedlings, and an unmanaged approach. However, to make informed alternative management decisions, TNNP needs to determine the spatial distribution of two key ecological factors, SOM thickness and black spruce seed viability, to promote black spruce regeneration. My project will aim to geographically map the reproductive potential of black spruce in TNNP. The information collected and analyzed in my project will provide a more in-depth understanding of TNNP’s black spruce regeneration, which will directly contribute to TNNP’s conservation and management of their boreal forest.

Research Interests:
-Forest management and conservation
-Climate change
-Forest ecology