Alana Westwood

Alana Westwood
Dalhousie University | Dal · School for Resource and Environmental Studies

PhD, Dalhousie University

About

36
Publications
29,500
Reads
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1,105
Citations
Introduction
I am interested in conservation and management of terrestrial ecosystems from a 'what works' lens. My lab studies the science-policy interface to understand how management decisions are made, and the impacts of forestry and mining to supply the evidence needed for sustainable management. Find out more at www.westwoodlab.ca
Additional affiliations
August 2020 - present
Dalhousie University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
November 2018 - August 2020
Natural Resources Canada
Position
  • Fellow
August 2017 - October 2018
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Position
  • Analyst
Education
September 2011 - March 2016
Dalhousie University
Field of study
  • Biology
September 2006 - February 2011
The University of Winnipeg
Field of study
  • Applied Forest & Environmental Ethics

Publications

Publications (36)
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we examine the role of science in Canada’s federal environmental assessment (EA) regime to illustrate opportunities for improvement. We do not address the application of science in EA practices (i.e., how to do good science within EA processes), which has been thoroughly reviewed by others. Instead, we examine the context for scien...
Article
Full-text available
British Columbia has the greatest biological diversity of any province or territory in Canada. Yet increasing numbers of species in British Columbia are threatened with extinction. The current patchwork of provincial laws and regulations has not effectively prevented species declines. Recently, the Provincial Government has committed to enacting an...
Article
Full-text available
The Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) is a critically endangered grassland butterfly with six populations remaining in the United States and Canada. The single Canadian population, with the largest remaining contiguous habitat, includes less than ~50 observed individuals and extirpation is potentially imminent. Captive breeding is underway...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research on boreal birds has focused on understanding effects of human activity on populations and their habitats. As bird populations continue to decline, research is often intended to inform conservation and management policies and practices. Research produced under the typical "loading dock" model by Western-trained researchers often fail...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reviews trends in the academic literature on cumulative effects assessment (CEA) of disturbance on forest ecosystems to advance research in the broader context of impact assessments. Disturbance is any distinct spatiotemporal event that disrupts the structure and composition of an ecosystem affecting resource availability. We developed a...
Article
Full-text available
In British Columbia (BC), Canada, there is increased attention on mines and their impacts on water resources. In BC, many proposed mines undergo provincial environmental assessment (EA), which predicts a mine's risks and involves government oversight and public engagement. After approval, mines can apply for amendments that alter the project's unde...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report summarizes evidence-based best practices for knowledge exchange (KE) in the Canadian forest sector. Fundamentally, KE involves the sharing of knowledge between its producers (including scientists) and its users (including foresters, the public, and many others). This report is intended to support government practitioners and managers in...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In November 2021, the draft of the revised Old-Growth Forest Policy in Nova Scotia was publicly released with a call-out for public consultation. We give feedback and recommendations for the proposed policy update with a focus on justifying the minimum size limit for an old growth stand, explaining the conditions of removal, specifying monitoring p...
Article
Full-text available
When making decisions about forest and environmental management, managers and policymakers often rely upon scientific knowledge. There is a well‐documented ‘knowledge–integration gap’ where often the production of knowledge and its use are not aligned. Though there are several theoretical frameworks that conceptualize how knowledge is exchanged bet...
Article
Full-text available
Earlier spring and earlier onset of growth, as a consequence of climate change, may expose trees and crops to increased risk of exposure to frost damage. In this study, we compare the frequency of frost rings in three regions [Porcupine Provincial Forest (PPF; north-latitude); Duck Mountain Provincial Forest (DMPF; mid-latitude) and Riding Mountain...
Article
In this commentary, we argue that mine assessments in transboundary watersheds, 1) underestimate risk, 2) rely on the promise of mitigations that lack field validation, and 3) do not require incorporation of transparent, independent, and peer-reviewed science. we urge our governments to honor their mutual obligations to protect our shared transboun...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic sequencing informs research, policy, and regulatory decisions that impact national priorities like agriculture, forestry, and human health. Emerging high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies are disrupting these sectors by providing precise information more quickly, thus raising concerns regarding responsible adoption by governments. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Populations of Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) are declining in Canada's Atlantic Northern Forest. Land conservancies and government agencies are interested in identifying areas to protect populations, while some timber companies wish to manage forests to minimize impacts on Canada Warbler and potentially create future habitat. We developed...
Article
Full-text available
Maintaining a functionally connected network of high-quality habitat is one of the most effective responses to biodiversity loss. However, the spatial distribution of suitable habitat may shift over time in response to climate change. Taxa such as migratory forest landbirds are already undergoing climate-driven range shifts. Therefore, patches of c...
Article
Full-text available
Plant traits—the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants—determine how plants respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, and influence ecosystem properties and their benefits and detriments to people. Plant trait data thus represent the basis for a vast area of research sp...
Article
Full-text available
Tebufenozide (Mimic) kills Lepidoptera larvae that ingest it. Aerial applications of tebufenozide were made against spruce budworm ( Choristoneura fumiferana (Clemens)) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in boreal forest in Manitoba, Canada, in 1999 and 2000. In 2000 and 2001, moths in sprayed and unsprayed plots were sampled with light traps; trapping was...
Article
Full-text available
The Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) and Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) are threatened landbirds in Canada and parts of the U.S. Both species are subjects of recent conservation and management interest. Protected areas are a key tool for managing populations of species at risk, and Canadian national parks may serve as important ref...
Article
Full-text available
Tree mortality is a key driver of forest dynamics and its occurrence is projected to increase in the future due to climate change. Despite recent advances in our understanding of the physiological mechanisms leading to death, we still lack robust indicators of mortality risk that could be applied at the individual tree scale. Here, we build on a pr...
Article
Full-text available
Canada's boreal forest region is among the most extensive and largely intact ecosystems on earth, but has experienced rapid industrial development in the last half-century. Calls for urgent conservation action have been prompted by the increasing pace of development and declines in biodiversity, including songbirds. To assist conservation decision...
Technical Report
Full-text available
British Columbia has the greatest biological diversity of any province or territory in Canada. Yet more and more species in British Columbia are threatened with extinction and require active measures for protection and recovery. The current patchwork of provincial laws and regulations managing wildlife and their habitats has not effectively prevent...
Article
Full-text available
Since being elected in 2015, Canada’s federal Liberal government has taken steps to overhaul major environment-related laws and policies, including federal environmental assessment (EA) and regulatory processes. During 2016–2017, a government-appointed panel toured Canada and received >1000 suggestions from diverse sectors of society regarding EA r...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We compared the text of the federal government's proposed Impact Assessment Act against a series of recommendations made by scientific researchers. Overall, we found that the proposed Act received a grade of D, and failed to meet many key components of scientific openness and rigour. More information on the project is available at www.y2y.net/stron...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This technical report provides a method and maps for locating high-priority areas for conservation and management of Canada Warbler in Canada's Atlantic Northern Forest. It is intended to be paired with on-the-ground habitat guidelines based on conservation or management objectives. Please visit the project webpage to see all reports, papers, maps,...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This technical report on managing Canada Warbler habitat in Bird Conservation Region 14 in Canada is intended to be paired with spatial prioritization modelling for conservation and management. Please visit the project webpage to see all reports, papers and data in English and French at http://www.borealbirds.ca/index.php/species-at-risk.
Technical Report
Full-text available
For more information about this project and Evidence for Democracy, visit https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/en/research/reports/bc.
Article
Tree mortality is a key factor influencing forest functions and dynamics, but our understanding of the mechanisms leading to mortality and the associated changes in tree growth rates are still limited. We compiled a new pan-continental tree-ring width database from sites where both dead and living trees were sampled (2,970 dead and 4,224 living tre...
Thesis
Full-text available
To effectively conserve species at risk (SAR), it is important to understand their ecology at multiple scales, including stand-level habitat associations and landscape-level distribution. The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), Olive-Sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi), and Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) are listed landbird species at ris...
Article
Full-text available
To accomplish the objectives of a long-term ecological monitoring program (LTEM), repurposing research data collected by other researchers is an alternative to original data collection. The Boreal Avian Modelling (BAM) Project is a 10-year-old project that has integrated the data from >100 avian point-count studies encompassing thousands of point-c...
Article
Armillaria spp. are a complex of fungal pathogens affecting populations of trees worldwide, including upland black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.). In central Canada, upland black spruce stands are severely infested with Armillaria root disease, which can kill trees across wide areas. In 2007-2008, infected dead and asymptomatic living trees...

Questions

Questions (4)
Question
Species distribution models (SDMs) are an incredibly common tool for predicting species occurrence, occupancy, or abundance on the landscape. There are many methods (Maxent, ANN, regression trees, etc.), and most authors validate their SDMs statistically (area under the curve, selection frequencies of bootstrapped runs, etc.). However, the gold standard would be:
1. Statistically validating
2. Calibrating the model using field data as related to conservation objectives (e.g. setting thresholds of 'good' habitat)
3. Verifying the model using a completely independent field-collected dataset based on the model. As in, you go out to the sites predicted to be good/bad or high/low, and measure if this is indeed the case.
I've found a couple of papers that do #2, and only one that does #3 (Johnson & Gillingham 2004 in Environmental Conservation). If you know of any papers that do #2 or #3, please let me know.
Spoiler alert: Soon, I'm going to publish an SDM that does #1, 2, and 3. But I'd like to cite other examples, if there are any.
Question
Although climax communities are assumed to be the endpoint of ecological succession, some believe that there is no such thing... that a community never actually reaches a climax. I will be holding a debate with my botany/ecology students on this issue. 
I am looking for a paper to provide to them which gives good background for such a debate. Does anyone know of a good article or paper? Good readability and relatively simple language would be preferred.
Question
I'm studying forest forest cover and structure across several site conditions (treatments), comparing samples taken even 10m along a transect. I'm comparing averages across treatments, but also variance as well. I'm using variance as a measure of patchiness in my sites. Basically, I'm operating on the assumption that if variance across a transect is high, the habitat it more heterogenous. If it's low, it's more homogenous. Thus, comparing the variance allows me to evaluate the relative patchiness of variables in different treatments. Although I recall seeing this approach used plenty if times, I can't for the life of me find foundational references for it. Does anyone have any references for papers that have done this, or used variance as a proxy for patchiness in general? I'm having a tough time finding any.
Question
Preferably, something my students could understand and use without too much difficulty. I've tried searching extensively, but alas, nothing came up.

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (8)
Project
There is a well-documented gap between the production of scientific knowledge and its implementation in policy and practice. But how can we close it? We characterize how knowledge exchange is done in forest sciences globally, and interview government experts in knowledge exchange to understand what works. Leads: Vivian Nguyen (Carleton University), Matthew Falconer (Natural Resources Canada - Canadian Forest Service), Alana Westwood (Dalhousie University)
Project
The objective of my research is to document the phenomena of interference in science in Canada by surveying the memberships of multiple scientific societies in Canada whose work relates to applied and theoretical environmental studies and sciences. In order to assess the current climate in Canada, my research asks do environmental scientists experience interference with their ability to conduct and communicate scientific research in Canada, and from whom does this interference come? Additionally, does the experience of interference differ for scientists in different career stages (early, mid, late), from different sectors (government, academia, industry, NGO, Indigenous organization), or, who self-identify as members of one or more equity-seeking groups (LGBTQ2S+, racialized persons, and gender minorities)?
Project
This projects collects research I have collaborated on related to forest ecology and ecosystems, with a particular view to human impacts stemming from industrial forest harvesting and management.