S. Ellen Macdonald

S. Ellen Macdonald
University of Alberta | UAlberta · Department of Renewable Resources

PhD

About

203
Publications
35,505
Reads
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7,600
Citations
Citations since 2017
49 Research Items
3306 Citations
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Introduction
S. Ellen Macdonald currently works at the Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta. She does research in Ecology and Botany.
Additional affiliations
June 1989 - present
University of Alberta
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 1983 - January 1988
The University of Calgary
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (203)
Article
Full-text available
Many forested landscapes around the world are severely altered during mining for their rich mineral and energy reserves. Herein we provide an overview of the challenges inherent in efforts to restore mined landscapes to functioning forest ecosystems and present a synthesis of recent progress using examples from North America, Europe and Australia....
Article
1. Although anthropogenic edges are an important consequence of timber harvesting, edges due to natural disturbances or landscape heterogeneity are also common. Forest edges have been well-studied in temperate and tropical forests, but less so in less productive, disturbance-adapted boreal forests.2. We synthesized data on forest vegetation at edge...
Article
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Even though understory plant communities play important roles in northern forest ecosystems, our understanding of their long-term successional dynamics and the associated driving processes is still limited. This study used spatially explicit data from five, long-term, permanent plots in mature lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) stands in the Canadian...
Article
Full-text available
Industrial forestry typically leads to a simplified forest structure and altered species composition. Retention of trees at harvest was introduced about 25 years ago to mitigate negative impacts on biodiversity, mainly from clearcutting, and is now widely practiced in boreal and temperate regions. Despite numerous studies on response of flora and f...
Article
The southern portions of the boreal region across Canada are dominated by boreal mixedwoods forests, which are characterized by varying canopy dominance of boreal broadleaf and conifer trees. This forest region encompasses a large east-to-west gradient of climate and disturbance regimes. Although the same major boreal tree species occur in all part...
Article
Full-text available
1. Retention harvesting is advocated as an alternative to intensive timber harvesting, such as clear‐cutting, to better maintain or facilitate recovery of biodiversity and other ecological values in managed forests. However, it is not clear how long the benefits of retention harvests persist. 2. We investigated responses of understory vascular plan...
Article
Treed peatlands are dominated by bryophytes, particularly Sphagnum spp., which create the characteristic hummock‐hollow microtopography. This, in turn, shapes the distribution of bryophyte communities. Disturbances can lead to a loss of this microtopographic variation, impacting the bryophyte community. Seismic lines are deforested linear disturban...
Article
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As boreal forests rapidly warm due to anthropogenic climate change, long‐term baseline community data are needed to effectively characterize the corresponding ecological changes that are occurring in these forests. The combined seasonal dynamics (SEADYN) and annual dynamics (ANNDYN) dataset, which documents the vegetative changes in boreal forests...
Article
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Climate warming in the North could lead to lichen decline within critical woodland caribou habitat. We used repeat measurements of sixty-nine plots over ten years (2007-2008 and 2017-2018) to assess lichen biomass changes under a warming climate along a latitudinal/climatic gradient in northwestern Canada. We compared lichen biomass on sensitive la...
Article
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1. Intraspecific trait variability (ITV) provides the material for species’ adaptation to environmental changes. To advance our understanding of how ITV can contribute to species’ adaptation to a wide range of environmental conditions, we studied five widespread understorey forest species exposed to both continental‐scale climate gradients, and loc...
Article
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Edge influence on forest biodiversity is an important environmental effect associated with habitat fragmentation, but extrapolating the influence of edges across the broader landscape has been difficult, especially for situations where multiple edges exist in close proximity. We asked whether there were differences in edge effects between two types...
Article
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For thousands of years Ɂedacho Kué (Artillery Lake, Northwest Territories) has been a key water crossing site for barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus). Human disturbance of barren-ground caribou habitat in northern Canada has emerged as an important focus of study in the last decade; particularly in the Bathurst range of the Nort...
Article
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Global forest area is declining rapidly, along with degradation of the ecological condition of remaining forests. Hence it is necessary to adopt forest management approaches that can achieve a balance between (1) human management designs based on homogenization of forest structure to efficiently deliver economic values and (2) naturally emerging se...
Article
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Retention forestry is an approach in which live trees and other components of forest structure are retained within harvested areas. A primary objective of retention forestry is to maintain biodiversity and to hasten post-harvest recovery of forest structure and function. Retention is now a key element in sustainable forest management practices in m...
Article
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To inform biodiversity conservation efforts in managed forest landscapes, we explore if a topographic moisture index (depth-to-water, based on remotely-sensed (LIDAR) data) can provide insight into responses of understory vegetation to retention harvesting in the boreal mixedwood forests of northwestern Alberta, Canada. Sample plots were placed alo...
Article
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Disturbances are an integral part of forest ecosystems and drive successional change. The boreal forest is adapted to stand-replacing fires, which have different ecological impacts than less severe disturbances, such as insect attacks. In recent years, mountain pine beetle (MPB), a bark beetle native to western North America, has undergone an unpre...
Article
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Forests are increasingly affected by natural disturbances. Subsequent salvage logging, a widespread management practice conducted predominantly to recover economic capital, produces further disturbance and impacts biodiversity worldwide. Hence, naturally disturbed forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world, with consequences for th...
Article
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Forests are increasingly affected by natural disturbances. Subsequent salvage logging, a widespread management practice conducted predominantly to recover economic capital, produces further disturbance and impacts biodiversity worldwide. Hence, naturally disturbed forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world, with consequences for th...
Article
The construction of pipeline rights-of-way (ROWs, hereafter ‘pipeline’) involves mechanical site clearing, which impacts soil and ground cover vegetation and has implications for forage availability and predation risk for threatened wildlife, including woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). However, there has been no...
Article
Full-text available
In peatlands, micro-topography strongly affects understory plant communities. Disturbance can result in a loss of micro-topographic variation, primarily through the loss of hummocks. To address this, mounding treatments can be used to restore micro-topography. We examined the effects of mounding on the understory vegetation on seismic lines in wood...
Article
Storing a significant portion of the global carbon (C) stocks, soils of the boreal forest display a high degree of spatial heterogeneity across the landscape, arising from variation in forest structure and landscape morphology, as well as natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Because of this high degree of variability, accurately quantifying C st...
Article
Full-text available
Regionally fitted allometric equations for individual trees and root-to-shoot ratio values are normally used to estimate local aboveground and belowground forest biomass, respectively. However, uncertainties arising from such applications are poorly understood. We developed equations for both aboveground and belowground biomass using destructive sa...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Responses, outcomes, and management options for lodgepole pine forests in Alberta following attack by Mountain Pine Beetle
Article
Full-text available
For the purpose of informing biodiversity conservation efforts in managed landscapes, we explored whether and how understory plant communities (abundance, diversity, composition) were related to a topographic moisture index, called depth-to-water, in the boreal mixedwood forests of northwestern Alberta. Depth-to-water is an index of relative site m...
Article
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Atmospheric acid deposition is of major concern in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) in northern Alberta, Canada, which is home to the third largest oil reserve in the world. After decades of oil sands production in the AOSR, the potential impact of deposition on forest health, including tree growth and understory biodiversity, is still not cle...
Article
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1.Considering intraspecific trait variability (ITV) in ecological studies has improved our understanding of species persistence and coexistence. These advances are based on the growing number of leaf ITV studies over local gradients, but logistical constraints have prevented a solid examination of ITV in root traits or at scales reflecting species'...
Article
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Wildfire is the predominant natural disturbance in the boreal forests of western Canada. Natural disturbance based forest management involves the use of retention harvesting to retain stand structural diversity after harvest; however, unlike fire, this partial harvesting technique does not cause combustion of the forest floor. Application of prescr...
Article
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We used repeat oblique photography to quantify and determine the drivers of vegetation change, particularly forest closure and encroachment, in the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta, Canada from the beginning of the 20 th century to the present. We classified the landscape into seven distinct vegetation types (closed canopy conifer-, broadleaf de...
Article
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Dead wood (DW) provides critical habitat for thousands of species in forests, but its amount, quality and diversity have been heavily reduced by forestry. Therefore, interventions aiming to increase DW might be necessary to support its associated biodiversity, even in protected forests, which may be former production forests. Our aim was to synthes...
Article
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Retention harvesting, or the approach of leaving live mature trees behind during forest harvest, is used in natural disturbance‐based management to mitigate the effects of logging on biodiversity. However, responses of many boreal vertebrates to variable retention harvesting are unknown. We investigated the influence of different retention levels i...
Article
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Montane regions throughout western North America have experienced increases in forest canopy closure and forest encroachment into grasslands over the past century; this has been attributed to climate change and fire suppression/exclusion. These changes threaten ecological values and potentially increase probabilities of intense wildfire. Restoratio...
Article
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1.Site moisture is an important component of the forest landscape for maintaining biodiversity, including forest‐floor bryophytes. However, little is known about its role in shaping understory responses to harvesting. 2.We investigated the influence of site wetness, determined using a remotely‐sensed, topographic depth‐to‐water (DTW) index, on resp...
Article
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Given projected rates of climate change, species with limited dispersal may be unable to migrate at the pace necessary to maintain their current climate niches. This could lead to increased risk of extirpation or extinction, especially for locally range-restricted species within fragmented landscapes. Assisted migration has been suggested as a proa...
Article
Full-text available
Background Livestock grazing and ‘overabundance’ of large wild herbivores in forested areas have long been perceived as conflicting with the aims of both silviculture and forest conservation; however, certain kinds of herbivory can help to maintain habitat values in forest ecosystems. Management of mammalian herbivory in protected forests can, ther...
Article
Full-text available
Retention harvesting (also called tree retention or structural retention), in which live mature trees are selectively retained within harvested stands at different retention levels and in different patterns (aggregated to dispersed), is increasingly being used to mitigate the negative impacts of forest harvesting on biodiversity. However, the effec...
Article
Full-text available
Given the habitat moisture (air humidity or soil moisture) preferences of many forest bryophytes, we explored whether the depth-to-water (DTW) index, derived from remotely sensed Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, was related to fine-scale patterns of spatial variation in bryophyte abundance, diversity, and composition. The goal was to asses...
Article
Full-text available
Wildfires, insect outbreaks, and windstorms are increasingly common forest disturbances. Post-disturbance management often involves salvage logging, i.e. the felling and removal of the affected trees. However, this practice may represent an additional disturbance with effects on ecosystem processes and services. We developed a systematic map to pro...
Article
Full-text available
Imperfect detection leads to underestimates of species presence and decreases the reliability of survey data. Imperfect detection has not been examined in detail for boreal forest understory plants, despite widespread use of surveys for rare plants prior to development. We addressed this issue using detectability trials conducted in Alberta, Canada...
Article
Question What are the processes driving regeneration and successional pathways in Pinus contorta subsp. latifolia Douglas ex Loudon forests? Location Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada. Methods We used five 1‐ha long‐term permanent plots, dendrochronological stand reconstruction and detailed spatial analysis of stem‐mapped data. Results Establish...
Article
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Given a seed source, the quality of available substrates is a key factor in determining the success of white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) natural regeneration. We examined the influence of substrate and competing vegetation on survival and growth of natural regeneration of white spruce up to 4 years following harvesting in deciduous-dominate...
Article
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Aims Reclamation following oil sands mining in northeastern Alberta (Canada) creates adverse reforestation soil conditions, including extreme pH values. We elucidated pH tolerance limits of boreal plant species and how pH affects nutrient uptake in these plants. Methods We measured growth, gas exchange, and foliar nutrient concentration of 15 comm...
Article
The effects of different understorey management practices on tree-weed dynamics and associated tree establishment were investigated in newly planted hybrid poplar plantations containing Walker poplar (Populus deltoides × (P. laurifolia × P. nigra)) and its progeny Okanese poplar (Walker × (P. laurifolia × P. nigra)). Trees were established in 2012...
Article
Variable-retention harvest is widely recognized as an alternative to more intensive methods such as clear-cutting. However, present information is inadequate to judge the impact of variable retention on biodiversity of indigenous forest organisms intolerant of canopy removal, such as forest-inhabiting bryophytes. We examined how bryophyte species c...
Article
The extent to which past states influence present and future ecosystem characteristics (ecosystem memory (EM)) is challenging to assess because signals of past ecological conditions fade with time. Using data about seven different taxa, we show that ecological gradients initiated by wildfires up to three centuries earlier affect biotic recovery aft...
Article
Full-text available
Background Livestock grazing and ‘overabundance’ of large wild herbivores in forested areas have long been perceived as conflicting with the aims of both silviculture and forest conservation; however, certain kinds of herbivory can help to maintain habitat values in forest ecosystems. Management of grazing/browsing in protected forests can, therefo...
Article
Full-text available
The effect of varying composition and abundance of neighbouring herbaceous vegetation on tree growth in commercial hybrid poplar plantations remains unclear. We evaluated relationships between tree stem volume, volume increment, and the abundance of various growth forms (perennial grasses, legumes, and perennial forbs excluding legumes) adjacent to...
Article
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Distylous species typically experience self-incompatibility with one morph often having partial self-compatibility. Small populations may therefore experience greater rates of selfing/intramorph crosses leading to skewed morph ratios and reduced seed production. For the distylous species Houstonia longifolia Gaertn. (“imperiled” at its northwestern...
Article
Full-text available
Knowledge of regeneration processes of the endangered whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) is critical for developing approaches for recovery and restoration of the species. We investigated biophysical associates of whitebark pine seedling occurrence and density in different mesohabitats (defined by community type and elevation) within the nor...
Article
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Abstract: As our view of disturbances such as wildfire has shifted from prevention to recognizing their ecological necessity, so too forest management has evolved from timber-focused even-aged management to more holistic paradigms like ecosystem-based management. Emulation of natural disturbance (END) is a variant of ecosystem management that recogn...
Article
Full-text available
Understory plant communities play critical ecological roles in forest ecosystems. Both above- and below-ground ecosystem properties and processes influence these communities but relatively little is known about such effects at fine (i.e., one to several meters within-stand) scales, particularly for forests in which the canopy is dominated by a sing...
Data
Indicator species analysis selection of cluster groups. (DOCX)
Data
MS Excel file that contains the raw data that were used in the analysis in this study. (XLSX)
Data
List of environmental variables included in study analysis. (DOCX)
Data
Results of hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis of understory quadrats showing the four plant community types (indicated by symbols at the bottom (left) of the dendrogram. (DOCX)
Data
List of species and taxa in the study and the number of quadrats (n) that they were observed in. (DOCX)
Article
Hybrid poplar plantations have the potential to produce a large amount of biomass for the forest industry; however, competition for resources by neighbouring vegetation can severely reduce that potential. Intensive vegetation control of all neighbouring vegetation is potentially costly and an inefficient use of limited resources, thus identifying t...
Article
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Understanding processes driving mortality in forests is important for comprehension of natural stand dynamics and for informing natural disturbance-based ecosystem management. There has been considerable study of mortality in forests during the self-thinning phase but we know much less about processes driving mortality in stands at later succession...
Article
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The Terrestrial and Riparian Organisms, Lakes and Streams Project studied the impacts of forest harvest and riparian buffers on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in twelve fish-bearing lakes in the boreal mixed-wood forests of Alberta. Major results are outlined based on forest harvest and buffer effects on the landscape, water quality, and the aq...
Article
Site productivity, as affected by soil nutrients and available moisture is often characterized using an edatopic grid. A challenge for forest ecologists and managers working across large areas and in complex landscapes is the need to identify spatially different ecological environments that follow an edatopic classification. Recent advances in remo...
Article
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Background The biodiversity of forests set aside from forestry is often considered best preserved by non-intervention. In many protected forests, however, remaining biodiversity values are legacies of past disturbances, e.g. recurring fires, grazing or small-scale felling. These forests may need active management to keep the characteristics that we...