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Master project opportunity in forest ecology and dendrochronology, 2015-03-10


Understanding nutrient acquisition strategies in mixed trembling aspen - black spruce forests of Eastern North America



Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) and black spruce (Picea mariana) are two major dominants in boreal North American forests. Future climate will likely change productivity for these species, which calls for a better understanding of the factors controlling their growth. Use of soil resources has been suggested as a crucial element in these interactions, influencing species biomass accumulation rate, their geographical distribution and role in vegetation cover. A recent study have shown for instance that jack pine and spruce are using different strategies in acquiring soil nutrients (N), in particular, by taking up soil nutrients at different soil depths (Houle et al. 2014). A difference in nutrient uptake strategies is suspected for aspen and black spruce as well.


The current project aims at further analysing the importance of soil resource partitioning between these species, specifically focusing on the mixed stands, which have been suggested as a more resilient alternative to pure stands under climate change (Drobyshev et al. 2013). The project will involve limited amount of field work, dendrochronological analysis and pre-treatment of samples for isotopic analyses, statistical analysis and preparation of a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.


This project is a cooperation between University of Quebec at Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT, and the Quebec Ministry of Forest, Wild life and Parks  ( The student will be co-supervised by researchers of UQAT and the Quebec Ministry of Forest, Wild life and Parks, and will be enrolled in the Master program at UQAT.


Successful candidate will obtain fellowship minimum of 16,000$ per yr for 2 year but could be eligible to  BMP scholarship (


We look for motivated students with strong interest in boreal forest ecology, soil chemistry, and related fields. We expect that student has good communication and analytical skills, a good command of French and English, being physically fit and able to work efficiently in remote field locations.


Interested applicants should send their Letter of interest and CV to and      


Drobyshev, I., Gewehr, S., Berninger, F., and Bergeron, Y. 2013. Species specific growth responses of black spruce and trembling aspen may enhance resilience of boreal forest to climate change. J. Ecol. 101 : 231–242. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12007. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12007.

Houle D, Moore JD, Ouimet R, et Marty C. 2014. Tree species partition N uptake by soil depth in boreal forests. Ecology. 5: 1127-1133.






(c) Laboratoire de Dendroécologie á la Forêt d'enseignement et de recherche de lac Duparquet, Monday, March 13, 2017