Contact Info

Department of Geography
University of British Columbia
1984 West Mall
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z2

Phone: (604) 822-3534
Fax: (604) 822-6150

Learn about the biodiversity of BC

Three electronic books, including two atlases, have been produced that document the biodiversity of British Columbia. These cover everything from the wildlife species and flora of the province to the ecosystems it supports.

E-Flora BC

E-Fauna BC

Biodiversity of BC

Claire Wooton

M.Sc. Student
Education: M.Sc. Geography, University of British Columbia, 2008 – present
B.Sc. (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Stirling, 2003 – 2007
Research Interests: Biogeography, GIS, Remote Sensing
Current Research:

Claire in a helicopter My current research is focused on examining the decline of yellow-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) in British Columbia. Yellow cedar is a tree species of high ecological, commercial, and cultural importance in coastal Alaska and British Columbia. Decline and mortality of this species occurs on more than 200,000 ha of undisturbed forest throughout southeast Alaska. Similar patterns of mortality were recently observed in British Columbia, with the greatest concentration located in the North Island - Central Coast Forest District. Past research has systematically eliminated biotic factors as agents of cedar decline. Research that is more recent suggests that climate change is a critical factor in the decline. According to the current leading hypothesis, climate change is interacting with soil/site conditions resulting in increased rates of freezing injury that causes fine root mortality and subsequent crown death. The involvement of a climatic mechanism suggests that cedar dieback may expand if warming trends continue.

The major objectives of my research are to determine the extent of yellow cedar mortality and associated biophysical features across the North and Central Coast using remote sensing and GIS. Investigating the underlying abiotic factors and their relation to the proposed climatic mechanism will lead to a more thorough understanding of the decline of yellow cedars and how this species should be managed in the context of a warming climate. This research is being conducted at University of British Columbia in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests and Range.

Previous Research Projects and Publications: For my honours thesis I performed an investigation into the use of remote sensing for studying intertidal vegetation in a managed realignment site in Scotland. The practice of managed realignment involves breaching current sea defences to allow intertidal habitat to develop on previously reclaimed land. In Nigg Bay, on the Cromarty Firth in Scotland, the sea wall was breached in February 2003 and 25 ha of former farmland flooded. The managed realignment is being performed as an adaptation to predicted sea level rise and the resulting loss of existing intertidal habitats due to climate change. The development of the intertidal plant community is of great interest to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and detailed knowledge of the effects of the realignment is vital for informing policy and management in order to attain the best quality of future recreated habitat. The aims of the study were to determine whether a meaningful classification of the vegetation could be made using airborne remotely sensed data, and to make recommendations for a monitoring programme.
Outside Interests: Cycling, running, hiking, camping, science communication, environmental issues.