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Great Lakes Forestry Centre (GLFC)


Issue 51, May 2024

Great Lakes Forestry Centre (GLFC) scientist recognized for outstanding work


Dr. Chelene Hanes receives the Medal of Merit from the City of Sault Ste. Marie for her achievements in wildland fire research.

Chelene Hanes.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie has announced that Dr. Chelene Hanes is one of its 2023 Medal of Merit recipients. The Medal of Merit was established to recognize outstanding achievement in a given field, and contributions to the community over many years.

The press release reads “Dr. Chelene Hanes is being celebrated for her remarkable achievements in wildland fire research. As the first in her family to pursue postsecondary education, she obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Western Ontario and Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Toronto. Specializing is drought estimation, fire probability, and modeling potential forest fires within Canadian landscapes, Dr. Hanes has not only enhanced the scholarly landscape of the community but has also ignited a passion for climate change, forest fire, and drought management in others. Her contributions extend to her role as a Wildland Fire Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) – Canadian Forest Service (CFS) where she plays a pivotal role in enhancing the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System through field and lab-based research on moisture dynamics, fuels, and fire behavior. This enhanced system, fortified by her research, supports effective wildland fire management strategies across Canada.


New methods are evaluated for drought estimation in the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System


Dr. Chelene Hanes and colleagues evaluated electronic soil moisture probes and land surface model for better understanding of drought in fire danger rating.

Canadian fire management agencies track drought conditions using the Drought Code (DC), representing deep organic layer moisture, in the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. Field studies were undertaken in Alberta and Ontario to determine if electronic soil moisture probes and land surface model estimates of soil moisture content can be used to supplement and/or improve understanding of drought in fire danger rating.

Results indicated that the simple DC model predicted the moisture content of the deeper organic layers (10–18 cm depths) well, even compared with the more sophisticated land surface model. Therefore, electronic moisture probes can be used to supplement the DC. Land surface model estimates of moisture content consistently underpredicted organic layer moisture content. Calibration and validation of the land surface model to organic soils in addition to mineral soils are necessary for future use in fire danger prediction.

For more information contact Chelene Hanes or Dr. Mike Wotton.


Flight behavior and stable isotope analyses used to characterize large-scale dispersal events of eastern spruce budworm


Dr. Felipe Dargent, a postdoctoral research scientist at GLFC, and collaborators further knowledge of spruce budworm migration.

Eastern spruce budworm moth (Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.)) mass outbreaks have widespread economic and ecological consequences. A key explanation for large-scale spread and synchronization of these outbreaks is the long-distance dispersal (up to 450 km) of moths from hotspots (high-density) to lower-density areas. These events are difficult to monitor because dispersal flights occur only a few times a year and have no consistent routes. Commonly used tracking methods are inadequate for this work. Confirming immigration and distinguishing between local and immigrant individuals are crucial steps in tracing back and identifying the physical and ecological drivers of moth dispersal.

For the 10-15 day lifespan of adult moths, when there is no rain and temperatures are above 14°C, moths will fly upward at dusk to a height of up to 400m for a few hours then settle below canopy level for the rest of the day. During vertical flying, dispersal events may occur when moths are carried away by wind currents and, in some instances, hundreds of thousands of individuals can be transported hundreds of kilometers.

Isotopes of hydrogen and strontium are intrinsic markers of geographic origin because they reflect where an organism developed and can be used to distinguish between local and immigrant adult spruce budworm moths and show that an immigration event occurred. This study first used moth flight behavior and time of capture, currently the best available tool, to determine putative local vs. immigrant status, and then evaluated whether individual hydrogen values and strontium ratios differed between putative classes.

An automated pheromone trap system recorded date and time of capture to collect individuals at six different sites in eastern Canada within and outside the current outbreak area of budworm moths.

Results found that both hydrogen values and strontium ratios, individually and when combined, enable discrimination between putative locals and immigrants. These findings have fundamental and applied implications; they provide an independent validation that combined use of automated traps, radar monitoring, phenology, and weather data is effective at detecting immigration events in spruce budworm, while showing the complementary nature of using isotopes to validate and enhance the effectiveness of this trap network.

Development of these isotope tools to study non-migratory, wind-assisted dispersal behavior of small-winged insects will open new research avenues to investigate the mobility of many pest species (e.g., emerald ash borer, mountain pine beetle, spongy moth and Asian long-horned beetle). Cumulatively, this information is key to the development of more efficient early-eradication strategies and improvement of the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of forest management decisions by industry and government practitioners (Characterizing eastern spruce budworm’s large-scale dispersal events through flight behavior and stable isotope analyses).

For more information please contact Felipe Dargent or Dr. Jean-Noel Candau.


Thermal regimes of forested headwater streams are warming


Danielle Hudson and Dr. Jason Leach lead study that shows forested streams have been warming over the past four decades which may have implications for aquatic ecosystems.

Thermal regimes of forested headwater stream networks influence habitat for aquatic organisms, such as fish. Many jurisdictions across Canada require that forestry activities are conducted in a way that minimize or mitigate potential effects on stream temperature. To fully understand how forestry activities might alter stream temperature, we need to also understand how thermal regimes are changing in response to climate variability. Most studies on long-term changes in water temperature are from large river systems and we know less about seasonal stream temperature trends for small headwater stream networks.

Danielle Hudson and Jason Leach analyzed long-term water temperature data measured throughout the stream network at the Turkey Lakes Watershed Study. They found that these small streams are warming, and warming rates differ depending on their location within the stream network. Temperatures of groundwater-fed headwater streams are mostly warming in the spring (up to 2 °C increase over the 36-year period). In comparison, lake-fed headwater streams are warming in the fall (up to 2.6 °C increase over the 36-year period). Interestingly, neither stream type showed clear warming during summer, which contrasts with most findings from larger river networks. These findings suggest that we need to account for the unique behaviour of forested headwater streams when considering aquatic ecosystem response to climate and forest change.

Contact Danielle Hudson or Jason Leach for further details.


Synchrony and dynamics of defoliator outbreaks


In several articles Dr. Barry Cooke and colleagues look at the factors contributing to frequency, severity and extent of outbreaks of defoliating species.

Cooke & Roland (2023), Variable synchrony in insect outbreak cycling across a forest landscape gradient: multi-scale evidence from trembling aspen in Alberta ”, showed that forest tent caterpillar outbreaks in Alberta exhibit strange asynchronous patterning that is driven by spatial gradients in forest landscape structure, and Cooke et al. (2023), “Confronting the cycle synchronization paradigm of defoliator outbreaks in space and time – evidence from two systems in a mixed-species forest landscape ”, showed that the same occurs in northwestern Ontario, and even with spruce budworm: the more trees a caterpillar has to eat, the more intense the outbreak, and the greater its extent. Finally, Sturtevant et al. (2023), “Of clockwork and catastrophes: advances in spatiotemporal dynamics of forest Lepidoptera ”, conducted a literature review, showing that in model systems such as spruce budworm and forest tent caterpillar, there is abundant research being done in six areas involving every aspect of scientific inquiry. They suggested this could represent a comprehensive framework for conducting research on any forest insect species that matters to Canadian interests.

In addition, Cooke et al. (2022), “The forest tent caterpillar in Minnesota: detectability, impact, and cycling dynamics ”, showed that forest tent caterpillar in Minnesota exhibit periodic outbreaks, exactly as in northwestern Ontario, and computed the thresholds when outbreaks become (a) detectable (using various means), and (b) impactful. Meanwhile, Cooke (2022), “Forest landscape effects on dispersal of spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) and forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) female moths in Alberta, Canada ”, showed that spruce budworm and forest tent caterpillar in Alberta both exhibit mass-exodus responses to rising levels of defoliation, and a preference for settling in relatively unpopulated, undefoliated forest stands, suggesting dispersal is highly adapted in these species.


Contact Barry Cooke for further details.


WildfireSat kickoff stakeholder meeting held in-person and the first e-Bulletin dedicated to WildfireSat is published


WildfireSat stakeholders met at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters and the first issue of the WildfireSat e-bulletin is now available.

In November 2023 the WildFireSat stakeholder kickoff meeting was held at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. The two-day event consisted of presentations outlining the WildFireSat mission on Day 1 and an interactive Day 2 with an innovative “Space Café.” This workshop marked the first opportunity since the rescoping of WildFireSat as an operational mission for the various groups involved in the mission – from members of the CSA to fire managers - to come together and connect in person at the same location. An overview of the workshop, including the structure and content, participation and initial outcomes can be found in the report Forming a constellation of connections: The 2023 WildFireSat stakeholders meeting.

The first WildfireSat e-Bulletin a new series dedicated specifically to WildfireSat activities is now online.


Community science-based project uses new sampling method for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)


The CFS, Invasive Species Centre, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have collaborated on a science-based community project using 3D-printed traps to survey for HWA.

This team is using a new sampling method for HWA that uses 3D-printed traps. The new method allows for anyone to participate in efforts to detect the pest at lower densities and in difficult-to-sample areas. This new sampling method was used in a citizen science survey for the HWA in southern Ontario and has already been successful in detecting one previously unknown infestation of the pest. The project was presented at the annual Forest Pest Management Forum, held in Ottawa, Ontario, in November 2023. In 2024, this work will continue.

Contact Dr. Chris MacQuarrie for further details.


Drying soil samples with silica gel packs an easily applied method for short term storage


A study by Emily Smenderovac shows the use of drying with silica gel packs as a cost effective and easily applied method for the short term storage at room temperature for DNA based microbial community analyses.

Soil sampling for environmental DNA in remote and semi‑remote locations is often limited due to logistical constraints surrounding sample preservation, including limited or no access to a freezer. Freezing at −20 °C is a common DNA preservation strategy; however, other methods such as desiccation, ethanol, or commercial preservatives are available as potential alternative DNA preservation methods for room temperature storage.

In this study, five preservation methods (CD1 solution, 95% Ethanol, Dry & Dry silica gel packs, RNAlater, LifeGuard) were assessed, along with freezing at −20 °C, against immediate extraction on organic and mineral soils for up to three weeks of preservation. Overall, the study supports the use of drying with silica gel packs as a cost‑effective and easily applied method for the short‑term storage at room temperature for DNA‑based microbial community analyses. This could mean expansion of areas that can be sampled for this work at a reduced expense.

Contact Emily Smenderovac for more information.


Petawawa Research Forest (PRF): applied science at its finest!


A new infographic provides an overview of the science carried out at the PRF.

Since 1918, forest researchers have used the PRF to establish long-term experiments and have collected data using varied and innovative techniques to learn how trees grow within Canada’s Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Forest Region. This knowledge is used to inform forest practices as well as to help predict and prepare for wildfires, climate change, and other forest management challenges. Core research areas at the PRF are rooted in reliable data and informed by strong connections with its partners.

View more details here: Petawawa Research Forest: Applied Science at its finest!


Historical review of white spruce research continues


The second in a series of three Information Reports based on the work of the late GLFC scientist, Dr. Roy Sutton, has recently been published.

This is the second in a series of three Information Reports on white spruce that are based on the lifetime of work and passion of the late Dr. Roy F. Sutton from the CFS, GLFC. The historical review brings together a vast amount of information about white spruce. It is also a testament to Dr. Sutton’s long and dedicated efforts. The second report, White Spruce: Botany, Physiology / Nutrition, A Historical Review, includes a comprehensive review of white spruce botanical characteristics, growth and development, reproduction, and required growing conditions.

The third and final information report on Dr. Sutton’s work is expected to be published later in 2024.

For further information contact Stan Phippen.



  • To order copies of these publications, please contact the Great Lakes Forestry Centre publications assistant.
  • Publications are available in English unless otherwise indicated.
Recent publications

Antwi, E.; Boakye-Danquah, J.; Silver, D. A.; Dabros, A.; Abolina, E.; Eddy, I.; Wiebe, P.A.; Leach, J.; Winder, R.S.; Webster, K.L.; Eddy, B.; Mansuy, N.; Emilson, E.J.S.; Venier, L.; Neilson, E.T. ; Trudeau, C.; George, C.; Mayor, S. J.; MacDonald, H. Report on the Risk Assessment Framework for Cumulative Effects (RAFCE). 2023. Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, 54 p.

Cooke, B. J., Robert, L.-E., Sturtevant, B. R., Kneeshaw, D., & Thapa, B. 2024. Confronting the cycle synchronisation paradigm of defoliator outbreaks in space and time—Evidence from two systems in a mixed-species forest landscape. Journal of Ecology, 112 (1): 152–173.

Crowley, M.A.; MacPherson, L.; McFayden, C.; Johnston, J.M.; Dufour, D.; DeBoer, S.; Mizzi, S.; Hope, E.; de Jong, M.; Thompson, D.K.; Cantin, A. 2023. Forming a constellation of connections: The 2023 WildFireSat stakeholders meeting. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Wildland Fire Proceedings GLC-WF-1. 13p.

Dargent, F.; Candau, J.-N.; Studens, K.; Perrault, K.H.; Reich, M.S.; and Bataille, C.P. 2023. Characterizing eastern spruce budworm’s large-scale dispersal events through flight behavior and stable isotope analyses. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 11:1060982.

Freeman, E.C.; Emilson, E.J.S.; Thorsten, D.; Braga, Lucas P.P.; Emilson, C.; Goldhammer, T.; Martineau, C.; Singer, G.; Tanentzap, A. J. 2024. Universal microbial reworking of dissolved organic matter along soil gradients Nature Communications, 15:187. 12 p.

Hudson, D. T., Leach, J. A., & Houle, D. 2023. Thermal regimes of groundwater‐and lake‐fed headwater streams differ in their response to climate variability. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 8(6), 885-895.

Lecours, M.; McFayden, C.; Boychuk, D.; George, C.; Woolford, D.G. Burning Brighter: Collaborating for wildland fire supporting science-policy-operations Integration. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Wildland Fire Proceedings GLC-WF-2. 12p.

Li, C., Barclay, H., Roitberg. B., Lalonde, B., Huang, S., Kambo, D., Fera, J. 2024. Realizing the full growth potential of a forest: TreeCG, a forest compensatory growth model. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre. Fibre Facts 28. 4 p.

Newton, P.F. 2023. Development of Spatiotemporal Whole-Stem Models for Estimating End-Product-Based Fibre Attribute Determinates for Jack Pine and Red Pine. MDPI Forests, volume 14, pages 1-47.

Sturtevant, B.; Cooke, B.J.; James, P.M.A. 2023. Of clockwork and catastrophes: advances in spatiotemporal dynamics of forest Lepidoptera. Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 55, 101005. 8 p.


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