Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


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Post-doc opportunity in forest ecosystem responses to climate warming in the Yukon territory
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Postdoctoral Researcher

Northwestern Canada is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. The scale and rapidity of recently observed changes indicate that this region is particularly sensitive to climate warming. Warming-induced intensification of the wildfire regime, thawing of permafrost landscapes, and drought are transforming
ecosystems (e.g., conversion of forests to wetlands or other non-forested land covers; conifer to deciduous forest cover), with direct consequences for the availability and configuration of wildlife habitat. These changes directly affect the health and wellbeing of northern ecosystems and communities. As a consequence, government decision makers and Indigenous communities urgently require science-based tools to understand and forecast the rate and trajectory of ecosystem responses to the disturbances and stresses induced by climate warming.

We are seeking an ecologist to lead the expansion into the Yukon Territory, Canada, of a large, long-term collaborative project on measuring and forecasting warming induced vegetation changes in northwestern Canada. In partnership with the Government of the Yukon, our goal is to better understand the impacts of fire and other stressors as drivers of changes in forest tree-species composition and understory vegetation communities, most notably caribou lichen. The successful candidate will work with an interdisciplinary team of academic and government researchers to establish a network of long-term monitoring sites across a chronosequence of historical burn sites, and to analyse data collected from these plots and other sources. This work will directly support the development of ecological forecasting tools to project changes in the abundance and distribution of lichen and other forage taxa under future scenarios of warming, wildfire, and forest compositional changes. There will also be opportunities to contribute to the improvement of forest dynamics models to capture important changes in tree species composition now underway.

• Ph.D. in ecology, natural resource sciences, or a related field;
• Evidence of publishing in peer reviewed literature;
• Experience with geospatial data analysis and remotely sensed data;
• High-level programming skills (e.g., R or Python);
• Experience with statistical modelling;
• Able to confidently interact with people of varying backgrounds;
• Experience with spatial simulation modelling an asset;
• Experience with climate change projections an asset.

The direct supervisor will be Jenn Baltzer (Wilfrid Laurier University) with a team of collaborators including Caitlin Willier (Yukon Government), Steve Cumming (Université Laval), Jill Johnstone (Yukon University), other postdoctoral fellows and graduate students within the Forest Ecology Research Group ( and the Canadian Forest Service (


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