Soil and Ecohydrology Team

Dr. Maria Strack
Associate Professor

University of Waterloo

I am a soil scientist who is interested in the links between soil properties, ecology, hydrology and biogeochemistry in wetland ecosystems. I am involved in a broad range of projects investigating the effects of disturbance, restoration and reclamation on peatland ecosystems, with a particular focus on soil carbon and greenhouse gas exchange. I have worked with the horticultural peat and oil sands industries to develop peatland restoration methods and assess their effectiveness. My research group has an emphasis on field-based evaluation of wetland ecosystem functioning, supporting our findings with experimental studies in the field, laboratory and greenhouse to better understanding underlying processes.

Team Members

Dr. Scott Davidson

Post-Doc

2018-Present

University of Waterloo

Upscaling plot-scale methane fluxes across disturbed boreal peatlands using UAV imagery/Impact of seismic lines on soil compaction

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo, working with Dr. Maria Strack within the Wetland Soil and Greenhouse Gas Exchange Lab.

Broadly, my research interests include boreal peatland disturbances and restoration. Within the BERA project, I am working on two aspects of disturbance from seismic lines. The goal of this project is to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery to map vegetation communities in order to upscale plot level methane emissions across seismic lines and adjacent undisturbed areas to the landscape scale. I am also looking at soil compaction across these linear disturbances.

My previous research has looked at combining field observations of greenhouse gas fluxes with high resolution vegetation maps created using a combination of field spectroscopy and multi-spectral satellite imagery across a variety of arctic tundra ecosystems. I hope to use similar methodologies within my postdoctoral work to map boreal peatland vegetation at a fine scale.

Percey Erasmus Korsah
PhD Student

2017 – present

University of Waterloo

Effect of Seismic Lines on Peatland Function

Existing data indicates over 80% of boreal anthropogenic disturbances are linear disturbances, however, limited information exists on their impacts on peatland function. The goal of my project is to investigate the impact of seismic lines on carbon cycling and greenhouse gas exchange in peatlands in boreal Alberta. Specifically, this research focuses on evaluating the physical and biological processes impeding tree re-establishment on seismic lines as well as reviewing the potential changes to GHG exchange in boreal peatlands disturbed by seismic lines. This study also evaluates the effect posed by seismic lines due to its characteristics and assesses changes imposed on vegetation and microbial communities in peatlands. Results of this study is essential for remediation and reclamation projects on disturbances peatlands.

Kimberly Kleinke
Masters Student

2019 – present

University of Waterloo

Impacts of mounding treatments on soil nutrients and compaction in seismic line restoration

Seismic lines in the boreal forest are a widespread concern due to their impact on habitat quality and fragmentation and various ecosystem functions. Currently, there is a special concern of decreasing caribou populations from increased predator efficiency. Due to slow and limited natural regrowth of trees, especially in peatlands, there are many on-going reclamation projects in Alberta with limited success. Reclamation efforts focus on a technique called mounding, a process of building mounds or hummocks to create higher areas with trees planted on top. Mounding in peatlands has been less successful than other ecosites with the mounds often flattening and having minimal impact on tree growth. As impaction on seismic lines lowers the ground level, the main aim of mounding is to provide a drier environment for trees to grow. However, recent research has suggested nutrient limitation and vegetation establishment competition may also be limiting tree establishment and growth. My research will be part of a study to understand the impacts of seismic lines and later mounding treatments on physical and chemical properties of the soil including nutrient content and availability, vegetation communities, and tree establishment and growth. Soil samples from mounds and lower surrounding areas will be taken from treated and untreated lines crossing peatlands for analysis of various physical properties and chemical properties. Samples from tree seedlings and vascular plants will also be taken and analyzed for total C, N, and P content to be compared to nutrient pools. Additionally, vegetation surveys will be conducted to determine total vegetation cover and composition. This project will start in late July 2019.