“My involvement with Round River began in 2006 with the Taku Student Program. After that integral experience, I worked with Dr. Kim Heinemeyer and Round River to develop a master’s project in collaboration with the University of Montana and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. My thesis focused on the Atlin herd of woodland caribou and combined my interest in conservation with applied scientific research. I developed scientific models that identified important seasonal caribou habitat and predicted how habitat quality was affected by human developments. I also compared predictions of habitat selection with habitat models based on the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of the Taku River Tlingit. This manuscript has been published in the Journal of Conservation Biology. I have presented our work at a number of national and international conferences and have received very positive feedback regarding the use of TEK in habitat modeling, an approach that has the potential to promote new methods for caribou management across northern Canada.
“During the summers of 2009 and 2010 I spent time in the field with Round River and the Taku River Tlingit to develop a suite of research projects related to Atlin’s caribou. With the help of dedicated field crews and Round River students, we developed an updated land cover classification for the region and a toolkit to aid managers in understanding how development affects caribou habitat quality, conducted caribou pregnancy testing through non-invasive scat collection, studied predator-prey interactions through stable isotope analysis, and conducted lichen sampling to understand caribou avoidance of human developments. During the summer of 2010 I co-led the Taku student program with Susie Dain-Owens, and learned a lot about teaching, field work, and innovative and collaborative approaches to education.
“I am currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Manitoba in Winnepeg, Canada, with Dr. Micheline Manseau. My research will involve caribou landscape genetics in northern Ontario and Manitoba. It will also involve collaborations with local First Nations to examine questions related to the concept of distinct caribou populations. The combination of TEK approaches with Western science methods such as landscape genetics may help clarify some of the controversial taxonomic and ecotypic designations. In the future I hope to contribute an original perspective to the conservation of northern ecosystems that are threatened by rapidly increasing human impacts.”
Read more about Jean and her research here.