Broad-leaved shootingstar (pink flowers) and giant fawnlily (white flowers) at Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

Broad-leaved shootingstar (pink flowers) and giant fawnlily (white flowers) at Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

Research at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

The Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve (CGOP) is an oasis of biodiversity in a sea of encroaching development. With less than 10 percent of Garry oak ecosystems remaining, many of the species that rely on them are in rapid decline as well. Scientists are scrambling to understand the intricacies of these native oak savannah and woodland ecosystems and the vast complex of plants and animals that can be found in them.

A growing roster of scientists from across North America are coming to CGOP to study this "living laboratory." Much of their work contributes to the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) and other organizations' ongoing efforts to restore Garry oak ecosystems throughout their range. NCC's BC Region thanks these committed ecologists for their dedication to the science that forms the foundation of NCC's Garry oak stewardship and restoration efforts.

Current and past researchers at CGOP

University of Guelph

CGOP researcher Andrew MacDougall

Andrew MacDougall, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph
Research: investigating the restoration and recovery of Garry oak ecosystem plant communities

Learn more about Dr. MacDougall's research >

Carly ZIter

Student assisting Dr. MacDougall's research:

Carly Ziter, MSc candidate
Research: examining how human-based changes in grazing pressure and nitrogen pollution are affecting soil carbon storage in grasslands

CGOP Researcher Ze'ev Gedalof

Ze'ev Gedalof, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Guelph
Research: testing the hypothesis that competition with exotic grasses leads to increased moisture stress in oak seedlings, ultimately preventing these seedlings from growing to full maturity

CGOP researcher Lesley Davy

Student assisting Dr. Gedalof's research:

Lesley Davy, MSc candidate
Research: investigating soil moisture dynamics in invaded Garry oak savannahs

Simon Fraser University

Elizabeth Elle researches pollinator diversity on CGOP

Elizabeth Elle, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
Research: measuring pollinator diversity on the preserve and linking pollinator visit patterns to plant success and ecosystem health

Learn more about Dr. Elle's research >

Wildflowers in a Garry oak meadow

Student assisting Dr. Elle's research:

Grahame Gielens, MSc candidate
Research: examining the pollination deficit in common and rare Garry Oak ecosystem wildflowers

University of Notre Dame

CGOP researcher Jessica Hellman

Jessica Hellmann Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
Research: investigating population dynamics and species interactions in oak savannahs of western North America with particular reference to biotic responses to global climatic changes

Learn more about the Hellmann Lab at the University of
Notre Dame >

Kirsten Prior conducts research at Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Students assisting Dr. Hellman's research:

Kirsten Prior, Ph.D. candidate
Research: investigating the effects of the invasive jumping gall wasp on Garry oak trees and other species that rely on the oaks, such as the Propertius duskywing butterfly

CGOP researcher Derrick Parker

Derrick Parker, Ph.D. candidate
Research: examining the potential for climate to limit the northern coastal range boundary of the Propertius duskywing in southeast Vancouver Island

CGOP researcher Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams, Ph.D. candidate
Supervised by Dr. Brent Sinclair, University of Western Ontario
studying the overwintering energy use of their Propertius Duskywing butterfly offspring, in particular looking for the effects of climate change on this energy use

CGOP researcher Travis Marsico

Dr. Travis Marsico, Ph.D.*
Deptartment of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University
Research: investigating limiting factors to geographic range spread of plant species in the the genus Lomatium Apiaceae - the carrot and dill family
*Dr. Marsico worked with Dr. Hellman during?his doctoral studies?and his research at CGOP was affiliated with the Hellman Lab

University of Victoria

CGOP researcher Kate Proctor

Kate Proctor, MSc candidate
School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Research: examining the effects that burning, weeding and tilling (aimed at increasing camas population) have on the existing and future plant diversity and composition

Institute for Applied Ecology

CGOP researcher Amanda Stanley

Amanda Stanley, Ph.D.
Project Director, Prairie Restoration Research, Institute for Applied Ecology Research: examining multi-site restoration to improve strategies used in restoration throughout the range of Garry oak ecosystems from Corvallis, Oregon to the Cowichan Valley, BC

Learn more about Dr. Stanley's research >

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