As a research scientist, I generate information. As a scientific advisor, I help translate research into management applications. This is the necessary next step in linking together conservation research with applied conservation, to effect real change in living systems. I have provided scientific advisory on issues ranging from caribou conservation and predator management for several governments and agencies.
Alberta: Naturally, much of my advisory has been provided to the government of Alberta, since I work for them. I was the Endangered Species Team Lead for Alberta's tremendous Land-Use Framework initiative in the Lower Athabasca region (which houses the oil sands), and a member of the Wildlife Team. This multi-year project lead to the development of future forecasting scenarios that modelled the effects of oil and gas and forestry development on biodiversity and endangered species, which informed land-use policy decisions. I have also worked with organizations such as CEMA (Cumulative Environmental Management Agency) and OSRIN (Oil Sands Research Information Network) to develop a framework for reclaiming oil sands landscapes that provide functional wildlife habitat. Less formally, my research on white-tailed deer and wolverines is informing species management policy.
Newfoundland: I worked with biologists in Newfoundland to find ways to mitigate morality of endangered Newfoundland marten, who are killed in snowshoe hare snares - a common traditional pastime. using behavioural biophysics we found a way to snare hares without snaring marten, and since the adoption of these methods, not a single marten has been killed in hare snares. This contribution among those of many other biologists has led to the beginning of population recovery. I also helped with early phases of predator research designed to understand sources of mortality for alarmingly declining woodland caribou populations.
North West Territories: The NWT asked me to independently review their caribou research and management program after a lawsuit claimed documented declines were not biologically real. An analysis of the surveys and statistics showed that the declines were very real, and resulted in multiple suggestions for research program changes that were adopted and in play today. This review gave the government confidence to engage First Nations in negotiations to reduce harvest, which has helped stem the decline of the Bathurst herd.