Dr. Lisa M. Poirier

(lisa.poirier@unbc.ca)

 

Research Interests

Current research focuses on two main areas:

1. Insect biodiversity in Interior ecosystems

2. Western spruce budworm in the northern Interior Douglas-fir zone of BC

Tree response to western spruce budworm defoliation

 

Western spruce budworm, Choristoneura occidentalis Freeman, is an important forest pest in southern and central British Columbia, throughout the Interior
Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. Historically, outbreaks have been restricted by elevation and latitude. In recent years, however, outbreaks of this insect have occurred at much higher latitudes than previously recorded, as far north as Alexandria, BC. Outbreaks in the past have briefly spread into mid- to high-elevation sites, but they have rarely remained in these sites for more than two consecutive years. In the most recent outbreak, populations seemed to persist for longer durations in these sites. Further changes in outbreak frequency and intensity may lead to increasing economic impacts of this defoliator.

Douglas-fir beetle and drought are also important disturbance agents of mature Douglas-fir in the region. We are using dendrochronological and other techniques to investigate the history of western spruce budworm, Douglas-fir beetle, and drought near the northern limits of the Interior Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone.

Insect biodiversity in Interior ecosystems

 

Terrestrial insects can be excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae), in particular, can be sensitive to habitat characteristics and to changes in habitats. We are documenting carabid biodiversity, along with that of other terrestrial invertebrates, in several different ecosystem types in north-central British Columbia. Urban habitats, boreal habitats, and Interior wetbelt forest habitats are being surveyed using pitfall traps, and a combination of morphotyping and DNA barcoding. The Interior wetbelt ecosystem is particularly interesting, as our work may help to gain a better understanding of the biodiversity and ecology of the new Chun Toh Wudujut Park.