Biogeographic studies at UBC geography focus on geographical ecology at the species, community and ecosystem levels. Topics addressed include the impacts of global environmental change on plants, biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and human-ecosystem interactions.
One area of focus is Arctic ecology and this includes experimental studies of the effects of climate change on tundra ecosystems. Climate change scenarios are simulated in the field and measurements include phenology, growth, reproductive effort and fecundity, net primary production, nutrient dynamics and carbon fluxes. Other arctic research projects include responses of vegetation to grazing and trampling by caribou, succession in arctic plant communities after disturbance, and reconstruction of arctic climate from growth patterns in dwarf shrub species.
A second area of focus includes conservation biology, and restoration and landscape ecology. Specific projects have included exploring elephant/human conflict in Africa (including studies on elephant movement using new technologies), species at risk in BC (including predictive mapping, status assessments and habitat analysis), and mapping the flora and fauna of the province using volunteered geographic information (VGI). A second line of research in this area focuses on studying the ecological and evolutionary processes influencing the speed that plant species move through landscapes at small and large spatial scales.
Faculty and graduate students working in the area of biogeography are also part of the Biodiversity Research Centre at UBC, which includes researchers from across campus who study many aspects and levels of biodiversity. Seminars, discussion groups, workshops, and the option to participate in a variety of outreach activities bring researchers together regularly.
The department is part of a Collaborative Research and Training Experience on communication of climate change and terrestrial ecosystem science (CREATE–TerreWeb). This network brings together the fields of natural sciences research, behavioural decision research and science communication. TerreWEB aims to answer questions and find solutions to why there has been so little change in public behaviour and government policy despite the challenges presented by global climate change. Students will learn to develop strategies for communicating global change science and solutions.
Faculty working on Biogeography