Research

How do plants survive in an ever changing environment?

We investigate the physiological, biochemical and molecular mechanisms that contribute to acclimation and adaptation of photosynthesis, growth and resilience of trees to changing environmental conditions

Our goal is to further the understanding of tree acclimation and adaption. We also develop tools for forestry, horticulture and digital agriculture to address the challenges of global environmental change

Changing climate already impacts carbon sequestration and productivity of trees, and causes increased tree mortality, with large effects on species distribution and the global carbon cycle. However, we currently lack a detailed understanding of how future climate will affect the physiological and molecular responses of northern trees and forests.

Our research not only reveals how trees cope with changing climate. We also develop innovative drone-based high-throughput phenotyping tools for monitoring and quantifying change.

Beyond the value of these tools for basic research, they also provide opportunities for practical applications in the forestry sector. Using drone-based phenotyping tools, we can assess growth, fitness and health of trees in the field faster and more reliably than conventional approaches. High-throughput phenotyping accelerates the process of identifying, selecting and breeding trees that are better adapted to future climate.

Our research helps to sustain ecologically and economically important tree species in a future climate with benefits to the environment and the Canadian forestry sector.

Current Projects

CoAdaptree

Within this field we are particularly interested in understanding these processes in evergreen conifers. For Canada the response of conifer forests to climate change is an important ecological and economic isThe aim of CoAdapTree is to develop strategies and recommendations, such as climate based seed transfer and assisted migration that will help us grow healthy forests that are better adapted to future conditions.

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Large group of researchers doing fieldwork
Students working in the field

SpruceUp

The goal of the Spruce-Up Project is to produce new and enhanced genomics and socioeconomic knowledge for the development, validation and implementation of biomarkers and genomic selection systems to accelerate spruce breeding programs.

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Drones for breeding better white spruce

The field of tree genomics has seen unprecedented advances over the past decade. A suite of next generation genomic resources for improved tree breeding and selection will soon become available to breeders and forest managers, thanks to a project led by Drs. Ingo Ensminger (University of Toronto) and Nathalie Isabel (Forest and Environmental Genomics at Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service Quebec region) in partnership with PrecisionHawk.

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Photo of a drone
Research Facility for Global Change Molecular Physiology of Trees

Research Facility for Global Change Molecular Physiology of Trees

Early Researcher Award, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation)

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Researcher working with machinery in the field

Response of trees to climate change

Discovery Grant, funded by NSERC

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Photosynthesis and carbon transfer in future forests

Connaught New Researcher Award Program.

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A measuring instrument attached to a tree
A conifer tree

Screening tools for assessing adaptation of conifers to future climate

Early Researcher Award, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation)

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Resources

Experimental warming array at Koffler Scientific Reserve

See live images from the Phenocam (in collaboration with Lisa Wingate and the European Phenology Network coordinated at the University of Cambridge)

See live images from the Phenocam