September 12, 2011
A student at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is receiving a fellowship from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) for her work studying the effect of climate change on a species of tree vital to northern vegetation and wildlife. UNBC Natural Resources and Environmental Studies PhD student Alana Clason’s research will examine how climate change influences the northern-most populations of whitebark pine in the coastal and Rocky Mountains.
“Whitebark pine is a critical, and yet threatened and declining tree among BC’s northern forests. It’s considered a ‘keystone’ species because it supports a wide food web that includes grizzly bears, squirrels, and Clark’s Nutcracker birds, the latter of which are vital for spreading its seeds,” says Clason, who lives in Smithers and is an active member and researcher with the Bulkley Valley Research Centre. “Its ability to persist in harsh mountain environments and compete with other trees will be affected by climate, so understanding how it’s responding to changing climate in BC’s north is very important for management and restoration strategies.”
Clason will receive $10,000 for her fellowship this year and $18,000 next year. She adds to the two other PICS fellowships currently held by UNBC students:
“Finding solutions for mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate changes is one of PICS key objectives,” says PICS Executive Director Tom Petersen in a September 12 media release. “These successful candidates will be instrumental in continuing that momentum.”