Vanessa Comeau, MSc
Is climate change driving yellow-cedar decline on Haida Gwaii?
Growing up in the Canadian prairies of Manitoba and the boreal forest of western Ontario, I developed a love for nature and became interested in learning about the environment. I completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science at the University of Manitoba, during which time, I explored an interest in landscape ecology, vegetation dynamics and disturbance regimes. I have worked with Parks Canada on the encroachment of fescue prairie, The Freshwater Institute on the eutrophication of Lake Winnipeg, and as a research assistant in Dr. Nicola Koper’s lab investigating the effects of habitat fragmentation. I have always been fascinated with the diverse and beautiful forest ecosystems of British Columbia. This, combined with my interest in conservation ecology and vegetation dynamics, eventually led me to the Tree Ring Lab, and my MSc work on yellow-cedar decline.
Yellow-cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis) is found along the Pacific coast from the California-Oregon border to Alaska. Yellow-cedar is an important part of the ecosystem, culturally significant and economically valuable. Along the coast of British Columbia and southeast Alaska yellow-cedar has experienced widespread mortality and decline over the past century. The driving factor of this regional decline is thought to be climatic warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, rather than biotic factors. In the past five years, yellow-cedar decline has been observed on islands of Haida Gwaii, where it was previously absent. The proposed mechanisms of climate-driven decline from mainland B.C. and Alaska do not fit for Haida Gwaii due to the temperate climate and the ephemeral snow pack. There is urgent need to identify the cause of this decline. This research aims to use dendrochronology to quantify climate-growth relations of live, declining, and dead yellow-cedar trees and to reconstruct population dynamics of the declining stands to test the hypothesis that climate is driving yellow-cedar decline on Haida Gwaii. Uncovering what is behind the decline in yellow-cedar on Haida Gwaii is essential for the management and conservation of the species, as well as ensuring this incredibly important species is available for future generations.
Cormeau, V. & Daniels, L.D. 2017. Is climate driving yellow-cedar decline on Haida Gwaii? Report to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Tree Ring Lab at UBC, Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, UBC. March 2017. 15p.
Bekker, M., DeRose, J., Pettit, J., Bake, A., Bhandari, S., Comeau, V., Cooper, J., McGee, J., Miley, N., & Reed, W. 2017. Multi-centennial precipitation reconstruction for the Clarks Fork drainage. North American Dendroecological Fieldweek report to the US National Science Foundation, 98-113.
Daniels, L.D., Gray, R.W., Brett, B., Pickell, P.D., Pisaric, M.F.J., Chavardès, R.D., Greene, G.A., Marcoux, M.H., & Comeau, V. 2017. Disturbance regimes in the maritime to submaritime forests of the south coast of British Columbia: Status of knowledge and understanding. Report to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Victoria, BC. March 2017. 98p
Daniels, L.D., Comeau, V., & Knochenmus G. 2016. Is climate causing yellow-cedar decline on Haida Gwaii? Report on the NSERC Engage collaboration between UBC and Taan Forest. Tree Ring Lab at UBC, Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, UBC. December 2016. 21p..