Suzanne Ellwood holds a B.Sc. in Environment (Biodiversity and Conservation), with a minor in Biology, from McGill University. She completed her MES degree in January 2010.
Title: Paleoecological Reconstruction of the Holocene Fire Regime at Mud Lake, Eastern Ontario, near St. Lawrence Islands National Park
Project Description: Ecological disturbance, a temporary shift in environmental conditions, can play a significant role in the structure of ecosystems. Fire acts as such a disturbance in many habitats, and it interacts with climate and vegetation in the context of long-term environmental change. It is important to understand the past role of fire in an area in order to manage it now and into the future, especially given the impacts of land-use and climate change.
My thesis is focused around the analysis of charcoal in the sediment of lakes in Southeastern Ontario. Charcoal, produced by the incomplete combustion of organic materials, is deposited onto the bottoms of lakes after a nearby fire event, and examination of its layers can reveal the patterns of fire activity over thousands of years. Additional avenues of investigation will include tree and soil studies. The key objectives are a greater understanding of the natural variability of fire over the last 10,000 years in this region, the contribution of this data to global charcoal records, and its application to the ecosystem management of St Lawrence Islands National Park.
Supervisors:Dr. Douglas Hallett, Dr. Brian Cumming
Research Interests: Paleoecology, protected areas, environmental restoration, conservation biology, environmental policy.
After the MES degree:
March 2010: I've been offered a Policy Analyst position with NRCan, through PARDP! I'm exceedingly pleased about this opportunity. I'll be starting with the Canadian Forest Service in a few months. I'm also pretty happy to be able to update everyone in Environmental Studies about my post-MES plans fairly soon after finishing up.