Joe Bennett – PI

joe 2018

I’m an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Department of Biology at Carleton University, and co-director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Laboratory (GLEL). My research touches on a variety of themes including conservation prioritization, invasion ecology, optimal monitoring, biogeography and spatial statistics. I have a particular interest in practical questions regarding invasive species control and management to protect threatened species. I also work on theoretical questions regarding the value of monitoring information and the determinants of community assembly in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.


Jenny McCune – Postdoc


I study plant communities and how they change over time. Forests, grasslands, and savannahs are constantly changing, with some species moving in and spreading, while others decline and disappear. I try to understand how the way we humans are changing landscapes – via fragmentation and changes in land use – are affecting which plants are thriving and which ones are suffering. It can take decades for the effects of landscape change to manifest in plant communities, so I use data from past surveys, historical aerial photographs, and even microfossils to understand how these changes have unfolded.

I also study a group of rare woodland plants here in southern Ontario, using computer models to target areas for forest surveys. So far my team and I have surveyed over 150 one-hectare forest plots to test these models. Most of the forests in our region are privately owned, so landowners are really important for plant conservation. Along with Dr. Andrea Olive at U. of T., I’ve done in-depth interviews with landowners to understand how they perceive endangered species conservation and what motivates them to help endangered species.

For more information, see my website:


Richard Schuster – Postdoc


Project: Combining full annual cycle population models and conservation optimization to address population declines of migratory birds in Canada.

Primary mentor institutions: Carleton University (Dr. Joseph Bennett), Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Dr. Amanda Rodewald), Environment Canada (Dr. Scott Wilson), Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (Dr. Peter Marra), Boreal Songbird Initiative (Dr. Jeff Wells)

Summary: Alarming declines are currently underway in numerous migratory vertebrate populations, creating an urgent need to understand when and how these populations are limited. My goal for this fellowship is to help improve conservation efforts along the migratory cycle for a suite of bird species breeding in Canada. Specifically, my project will address three questions:

  • How abundant are migratory bird species in landscapes that have differing levels of anthropogenic disturbance in breeding and overwintering habitats?
  • What is the influence of alternative scenarios of habitat loss and protection over large geographic areas on the population trends of migratory species?
  • Which regions are the best candidates for habitat protection, with the goals of maximizing biodiversity protection and minimizing risk of conservation failure?

This project will dramatically advance the development and application of metapopulation models for migratory species over space and time. I will deliver strategic plans that optimize conservation strategies across entire ranges for migratory species and identify portfolios of sites critical to the global persistence of these species. The framework I will develop has great potential to facilitate better-informed and more cost-effective conservation programs, which in turn have a higher likelihood of implementation and success.

Personal website:


Trina Rtwinski – Postdoc



My research focuses on understanding the circumstances in which roads and traffic affect wildlife populations. I am particularly interested in looking at species traits and their behavioural responses to roads, to determine which species or species groups are most vulnerable to road impacts, and determining ways to mitigate road effects. Most recently, I have focused on two road ecology related projects: (1) determining ways to improve knowledge on the influence of mitigation measures on wildlife populations through experiments, and (2) assessing the effectiveness of mitigation measures intended to decrease road related impacts on wildlife through meta-analysis. My research with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Cooke will involve conducting various systematic reviews; one of which is currently underway focusing on evaluating the effectiveness of non-native fish management projects for the restoration of freshwater ecosystems.


I completed my PhD in 2012, at Carleton University, working with Dr. Lenore Fahrig in the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory (GLEL) studying road effects on wildlife populations. After taking some maternity leave, I returned to the GLEL as a Post-doctoral fellow where I worked part-time from 2013-2016 with Dr. Fahrig on various road ecology projects while also working as a Contract Biologist for various universities and government e.g., Concordia University (Montreal), Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario region), University of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen, The Netherlands). Prior to my PhD, I worked as a Research Biologist for the University of New Brunswick on a long-term study of the population dynamics of the northern flying squirrel in relation to habitat fragmentation in Fundy National Park, NB. Previous education: M.Sc. Biology, Carleton University (2004-2006); B.Sc. Biology (with Honours), Cape Breton University (2000-2004).


Jordanna Bergman – PhD (co-supervised with Steve Cooke


Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from The University of South Florida in 2015, I have served as a Biological Scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute investigating reproductive dynamics in marine fisheries species for conservation and management purposes. My research here at Carleton University will continue to focus on management aspects of aquatic species, specifically in the Rideau Canal Waterway. We will be investigating fish connectivity and interactions with lock infrastructure and operations, as it is unclear if, when, and to what extent fish movement occurs at the site of individual locks, which is relevant for enabling movement of desirable fish species and restricting movement of invasive species.


S. Masson – MSc


I am a recent graduate of Trent University, where I completed an Honours thesis on how environmental changes affect the foraging patterns of Arctic foxes. I have spent the past two summers in a remote Arctic field camp on Coats Island, Nunavut assisting in an Arctic shorebird monitoring program. An avid bird watcher and photographer, I will be researching the species diversity of song birds within a managed forest area in North Western New Brunswick for my masters at Carleton University.


Katia McKercher – MSc

(co-supervised with Jesse Vermaire)


I am a recent graduate of Mount Allison University, where I completed my bachelor of science in biology. My research at MtA focused on an ancient cryptic diatom species and its morphological changes over time relative to environmental events. I was lucky enough to become a summer student at the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority where I was on the water quality monitoring team. At Carleton I will be completing my Msc in Geography with research focusing on diatoms as bioindicators.


Elise Huculiak – MSc


After finishing a BSc in Outdoor Recreation and Conservation, specializing in Natural Sciences, at the University of Northern British Columbia (2016), I became a conservation science intern with a non-profit NGO called A Rocha. As an organization that focuses on teaching and cultivating environmental stewardship, I was privileged to spend nearly a year working on several ongoing monitoring projects, specifically focused on species at risk conservation, in the Little Campbell River watershed, Surrey, BC. My main project had me surveying for the Salish Sucker; a thought to be extirpated fish in the LCR watershed until rediscovery in 2011. By my second field season I took part in organizing a mark-recapture study of the remaining population and discovered that there were many more breeding individuals than our initial surveys throughout the watershed had suggested. I have also spent the past 6 summers working in silviculture and reforestation as a tree planter/ foreman. This laborious field experience has also kindled an interest in forest ecology, and plant species conservation. As an MSc student in Biology at Carleton University, under the supervision of Dr. Bennett, I will be surveying for rare plant species in Southern Ontario. The data collected will inform how we predict the remaining occurrences of these rare plants and what that implies for species prioritization and conservation in the future.


Jaimie Vincent – MSc


I completed a B.Sc. in Biology from Université Laval in Québec City in 2017.

I have a general interest in conservation biology and experience working with amphibian and reptile populations in Central America and with Atlantic salmon in Québec rivers as well as with small mammals and birds in the Canadian Arctic. My research in the Bennett lab focuses on avian conservation using citizen science.  My aim is to determine the usefulness of eBird data to define priority conservation areas. This project will be done in collaboration with the Government of Canada and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Allison Binley – MSc

Allison Binley

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Victoria in 2015, with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In the past, I have worked on a wide variety of projects, including captive breeding research in Australia, pinniped cognitive and sensory ecology in Germany, and coral reef restoration in Cambodia. More recently I worked for the Conservation Officer Service in British Columbia preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, and volunteered on a number of bird monitoring and banding projects with Bird Studies Canada and Wild Research.

At Carleton my research will be focused on using citizen science to increase monitoring efficiency and prioritize conservation efforts.


Caitlyn Proctor – MSc

caitlyn proctor

I completed my undergraduate degree in 2018 at Carleton University, where I completed my BSc Honours in Environmental Science with minors in Biology and Physical Geography. My undergraduate thesis focused on factors influencing carbon dioxide fluxes on exposed bedrock landforms in the Canadian Arctic. My honours thesis allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of two topics I have always been interested in: climate change and the Canadian Arctic.

As I begin my graduate career, I am excited to pursue some of my other interests: conservation and species at risk. My research will be focus on the ranges of species at risk in Ontario, the varying degree of protection they receive and how to optimize protection.


Keith Pettinger – Honours

Keith Pettinger

I am in my final year of studies in Carleton University’s BSc Environmental Science program with a minor in Biology. Throughout my life I have had a love for Canada’s beautiful waterways, which has lead me to focus on conservation biology and aquatic science in my degree. For my honours thesis project I will be mapping the potential future spread of Water Soldier in Ontario, so as to provide a risk assessment and prioritize prevention actions for Ontario’s waterways.


Diana Moczula – Honours

Upon entering my final year of undergraduate studies in the Carleton University Environmental Science program and a minor in Biology, I am thrilled to begin my Honours Research Thesis Project in this lab with a focus on Monarch butterfly conservation. I will be using citizen science, conducting a spatial analysis and modeling preferences of monarch plant resources along their migratory path to better distribute monarch way-stations with plant species that are most valuable to the monarchs. With a strong interest in conservation biology I look forward to aiding in the conservation of the Monarch butterfly.

diana m



Lab Alumni: 

Hanna Rosner-Katz – MSc (Optimizing surveys for rare plants) – 2016-2018

Cassie Hill – MSc (Indigenous involvement in Species at Risk recovery planning) – 2016-2018

Calla Raymond – MSc (Sequential Value of Information) – 2016-2018

Clark Bolliger – Honours (Species at Risk Act spatial coverage) – 2017-2018

Jed Lloren – Honours (co-supervised; post ice storm forest community changes) – 2017-2018

Emily Cormier – Honours (diatom traits) – 2016-2017

Meagan Harper – Honours (optimal invasive species management) – 2016-2017

Elizabeth Robson Gordon – Honours (conservation costs) – 2016-2017







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