Research Programme


André Desrochers

Mélanie Desrochers

We consider our activities to be at the interface of a range of research disciplines, and are active at the landscape level of organisation and its research applications, and active in genetic improvement targetting functional strata of the forest. We aim to develop a innovative and inclusive synergy between these two great research dimensions in the forestry section to carry out our scientific and social mission. Moreover, the involvement of a large number of CEF scientists at both national and international levels, especially within tropical and subtropical environments, reinforces our international presence. We have proposed four integrated research axes, each one directed and inspired by an established leader in that field, whose mandate is to integrate projects and to encourage the development of new teams. These axes are structured around six Research Chairs, with team projects of great breadth.

AXIS I. Genetics, molecular biology and physiology


André Gagné

Karine Plourde

Intensification of sylviculture has been recommended in certain regions to compensate for the loss of merchantable timber when forested areas are protected, and therefore, the implementation of ecosystem-based management (i.e., the TRIAD principle) requires a thorough knowledge of the growth, development, physiology, as well as adaptations of key organisms (commercial species, their symbiotes and their pathogens). This axis gathers together teams that are examining the genetics, genome and physiology of trees and microorganisms in order to provide the knowledge basis essential for increasing forest productivity while conserving resources. Moreover, the Canada Research Chair in Forest and Environmental Genomics  (Bousquet, Laval University) and the Project Arborea  actively contributes to the development of this axis.

A) To develop methods of numerical analysis and new types of molecular markers to understand the organisation and function of genomes as well as the importance and evolution of their molecular diversity in both space and time (Bernier, Bousquet, Tremblay, F.). This research has already become internationally significant in genomic mapping of conifers, an essential step in the selection and genetic improvement of commercial species.

B) To identify intrinsic molecular (MacKay) and physiological (Bélanger, N., Lapointe, Lechowicz, Margolis, Messier, MacKay, Shipley) factors that control the growth of plants and their mycorrhizal symbioses (Shipley, Piché). This research has obvious ramifications for commercial species, but also shows promise in the agroforestry arena (e.g., bioremediation).

C) To master the techniques of micropropagation in forest species in order to intensify clonal forestry and permit development of innovative applications, particularly the production of phytomolecules (Lapointe, Tremblay, F.).

D) To understand gene flow and population structure of mammals, plants, and their pathogens and symbionts(Bernier, Bousquet, Khasa, MacKay, Piché). This research is of particular importance in the context of increasing the introduction of selected and genetically modified organisms into ecosystems.

E) To refine the means of combatting pathogenic fungi and insect pests by using molecular (Bernier) and physiological (Bauce, Mauffette) approaches.

AXIS II. Population dynamics, biodiversity, and conservation biology


Sophie Brugerolle

An understanding of the genetics and physiology of organisms is necessary, but it is not sufficient to understanding the distribution and performance (fitness – selection value) of forest species, because of the importance of population factors such as predation, dispersion and interspecific competition. This axis joins together teams with interests in the dynamics of populations, their interactions, as well as applications at the level of forest management. Moreover, the Canada Research Chair in Spatial and Landscape Ecology  (Bélisle, U. of Sherbrooke), the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Sylviculture and Boreal Forest Fauna  (Ruel, Laval University) and the Canada Research Chair in ecology of terrestrial ecosystems  are associated with the development of this axis.

A) To strive towards a theory of forest habitat selection applicable at different spatial scales for birds and mammals (Bélisle, Desrochers (Laval University), Despland, Drapeau, Dupuch, Fortin, Imbeau, St-Laurent, Mazerolle). This research responds to a crying need for generalisation, by regrouping approaches and complementary data sets.

B) To understand the functional links between habitats and the biology and behaviour of animals and plants to develop strategies of conservation (Drapeau, Dupuch, Imbeau, Desrochers (Laval University), Bélanger, L., Despland, St-Laurent, Mazerolle).

C) To identify intrinsic factors (individual differences, reproductive success, bioenergetic considerations) that contribute to the understanding and prediction of environmental stress impacts on the forest fauna and flora (Bélanger, N., Boucher, Brisson, Chapman, Despland, Dupuch, Gravel, Messier, Lechowicz, Desrochers (Laval University), Potvin, Shipley, Mazerolle, Filotas, Despland).

D) To identify species that are most vulnerable to different sylvicultural practices and to evaluate their utility as indicators of biodiversity. This includes the effects of partial and cuts (Bélanger. L., Bergeron, Buddle,Delagrange, Desrochers (Laval University), Drapeau, Gravel, Fortin, Imbeau, Messier, Lechowicz, Rivest, Ruel, Work, St-Laurent) on the plants, birds and mammals.

AXIS III. Functioning and dynamics of forest ecosystems


Mélanie Desrochers

This axis considers the dynamic and functional processes of forests and aims to understand the role of natural disturbances on this dynamic at a multiscalar level.

A) To understand the impact of sylvicultural practices on soil biogeochemistry (Bélanger, N., Bradley, Brais, Fyles, Khasa, Munson, Piché) and to consider the physicochemical and biological aspects of soil fertility (mineral nutrition, nitrifying bacteria, symbiotic fungi).

B) To develop quality indicators for soils, water and flow regimes according to various sylvicultural practices (Bélanger, N., Bradley, Brais, Côté, Fyles, Munson, Rivest).

C) To understand the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on regeneration (post-planting stress, production losses, competition, agroforestry) (Bélanger, N., Bradley, Brais, Brisson, Boucher, Delagrange, Desreochers (UQAT), Dupuch, Gravel, Harvey, Khasa, Kneeshaw, Krause, Lechowicz, Margolis, Mauffette, Messier, Morin, Munson, Potvin, Ruel, Shipley).

D) To study and compare natural forest dynamics across different regions of Canada (Bélanger, L., Bergeron, Kneeshaw, Leduc, Messier, Morin, Munson, Pothier, Ruel, St-Onge, Schneider, Filotas). To understand the influence of climate on disturbance regimes (Bergeron, Kneeshaw, Leduc), on the carbon cycle of forests and peatlands (Fyles, Margolis, Potvin) and forecast future dynamics of these same ecosystems (Messier, Bergeron, Gravel, Margolis).

E) To develop methods of analysis of remote sensing data and computerized tools for decision support and management to better understand the resources and existing carbon stocks, better plan our development scenarios at the landscape scale and that integrate the conservation, management intensive and extensive management of forest lands. (Bélanger, N., Bergeron, Boucher, Kneeshaw, Margolis, Messier, Plamondon, St-Onge, Filotas). The Canada Research Chair in Ecology and Sustainable Forest Management  (Bergeron, UQAT) and the NSERC Industrial Chair UQAT-UQAM in Sustainable Forest Management  actively contribute to the development of this axis.

F) To determine the impact of climate change and disturbances (natural and human) on the ability of forest ecosystems to provide ecological services (Asselin, Bélanger, L., Boucher, Handa, Kneeshaw, Messier, Munson, Potvin, Rivest, Sirois, Filotas).

AXIS IV. New sylvicultural approaches to forestry and sustainable forest management strategies


Sophie Brugerolle

This axis establishes the essential parameters of forestry (extensive and intensive) at the stand level as well as innovative approaches to ecosystem management at the landscape level. These new approaches are adapted to the principles of sustainable forest management in the context of climate change and are linked with use of non-timber forest resources.

A) To develop methods of analysis of remote sensing data and computerized tools for decision support and management to better understand the resources and existing carbon stocks, better plan our development scenarios at the landscape scale and that integrate the conservation, management intensive and extensive management of forest lands. (Bélanger, N., Bergeron, Boucher, Kneeshaw, Margolis, Messier, Plamondon, St-Onge, Filotas). The Canada Research Chair in Ecology and Sustainable Forest Management  (Bergeron, UQAT) and the NSERC Industrial Chair UQAT-UQAM in Sustainable Forest Management  actively contribute to the development of this axis.

B)To develop approaches to intensive sylviculture and ligniculture (Bélanger, N., Bernier, Bradley, Bousquet, Brais, Buddle, Delagrange, DesRochers (UQAT), Fyles, Gravel, Messier, Potvin, Rivest, Tremblay, F., Schneider, Filotas).

C)To develop new sylvicultural approaches at the population (sylvicultural practices: Brais, Delagrange, Harvey, Kneeshaw, Krause, Messier, Munson, Pothier, Ruel) and at the landscale scale (management strategies: Bélanger, L., Bergeron, Drapeau, Gravel, Harvey, Kneeshaw, Messier, Morin, Filotas) based on our understanding of natural forest dynamics.

D)To identify the challenges faced by indigenous communities in response to forest management carried out on their ancestral territories and develop innovative approaches, particularly based on local knowledge of indigenous and non-indigenous communities (in connection with theme 3) Asselin, Bélanger, L., Imbeau, Drapeau, Kneeshaw, Potvin).

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