Current Project Members

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Jim Roth

Professor

University of Manitoba

Email: Jim.Roth@umanitoba.ca

Jim first started studying Arctic foxes in the Greater Wapusk Ecosystem in 1994 as a PhD student at the University of Minnesota. Following a faculty appointment at the University of Central Florida, Jim was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in 2009. Shortly thereafter, Jim restarted his research on foxes in the Churchill area, leading to the inception of the Churchill Fox Project. Jim's PhD research focused on understanding how Arctic fox consumption of seals in Hudson Bay during winter varied over time and affected their population dynamics. Today, studying how cross-environment resources (like seals) affect foxes and, in turn, other prey species, remains a core research focus for the Churchill Fox Project. Jim is also interested in understanding how foxes affect Arctic ecosystem functioning as ecosystem engineers, concentrating nutrients around fox dens. Because predators play an important role in regulating ecosystems and sustaining biodiversity, much of Jim's research has significant implications for the conservation, management, and research of predators. After long days of field work in Wapusk National Park, Jim enjoys recapping all of the different bird species that our project members have seen throughout the day. Jim swears he sleeps better in the quiet, remote stillness of the Nester One satellite camp than anywhere else.

Chloé Warret Rodrigues

PhD Student

University of Manitoba

Email: warretrc@myumanitoba.ca

Chloé first graduated with a DVM from Liege University (Belgium), and completed a MSc in ethology (Paris XIII University, France) before joining the fox project as a PhD student in 2016. Chloé is interested in understanding the ecological requirements of carnivores, interactions between carnivores, and interactions between species and their environment, and apply that knowledge towards conservation efforts. Her research aims to understand how red foxes have established and maintain a reproductive population on the coastal tundra of Western Hudson Bay, and how they interact with the ecologically similar Arctic foxes. Prior to joining the project, Chloé worked on a diversity of projects and species, including working as a veterinary specialist on a Jaguar conservation project run by the ONCFS in French Guyana. She also worked as a coordinator for the (French) National Action Plan for the conservation of the Lesser Antillean Iguana for the ONCFS. In Chloé's free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, working on her photography and video editing skills, playing music, and practicing martial arts.

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Sean Johnson-Bice

PhD Student

University of Manitoba

Email: sean.johnson-bice@umanitoba.ca

Sean joined the Churchill Fox Project in Fall 2019 and is currently a PhD student at the University of Manitoba. Sean's research is primarily focused on studying food web interactions between Arctic foxes, red foxes, and their shared prey, with a secondary focus on understanding how cross-environment subsidies (like seals) affect these interactions. Additionally, he is using historic trapping (pelt) data from throughout the Province of Manitoba to evaluate how spatial and temporal trends in fox harvest throughout the province have changed over the past century. Prior to joining the project, Sean received his MSc degree from the University of Minnesota where he studied the spatial ecology and population dynamics of beavers. He is also currently a collaborator on the Voyageurs Wolf Project where he worked for several years before joining the fox project. Sean fostered a passion for the outdoors, wild places, and wildlife through childhood camping trips and by working seasonal technician jobs in places like Maui, the New Mexico mountains, the Florida Keys, and the northwoods of Minnesota.

Alexandra Windsor

PhD Student

University of Manitoba

Email: windsora@myumanitoba.ca

Originally from the Niagara region of Ontario, Alex moved to the east coast to complete my BSc in Biology at Memorial University. She continued into graduate research at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Australia, completing her MSc in Zoology. Working as a zookeeper for nearly 10 years, not only supported Alex during her studies, but also inspired her to pursue wildlife research as a profession. Alex's love of travel and wildlife has led her to research projects around the world; from harp seals in Canada, sharks and turtles in Australia, to wooly monkeys in Peru. Prior to starting her PhD at the University of Manitoba, Alex worked as a research technician at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, where she had the privilege of working alongside many researchers, including her future supervisor and Churchill Fox Project lead, Jim Roth. Her current research introduces a brand new project to the Roth Lab, and focuses on red squirrels living in the Churchill area. Over the next few years she will examine the limitations that red squirrels face living at the subarctic edge of their geographic range. 

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Morgan Dobroski

MSc Student

University of Manitoba

Email: dobroskm@myumanitoba.ca

Morgan joined the Churchill Fox Project in January 2020, and is currently an MSc student at the University of Manitoba. Her research is focused on understanding lemming and vole habitat use on the Arctic tundra, and investigating spatial and temporal patterns in Arctic and red fox denning. She is also interested in understanding how food webs are interconnected and the cascading impacts that changes in predator-prey interactions could have on entire ecosystems. Prior to joining the project, Morgan received her BSc in Animal Biology from the University of Alberta. Morgan participated in several ecological studies during her undergraduate, including examining the effect of slope aspect on pika foraging behaviours in the Alberta mountains, and she completed her honour’s research project on the effect of smoltification on trout retinal morphology. Morgan also worked as a technician at the Churchill Northern Research Centre, where she gained experience working with numerous species from aquatic invertebrates and plants, to tree swallows and seals. Her passion for northern research was a large inspiration for joining the project.

Former Project Members

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Megan Dudenhoeffer

MSc 2020

Personal website

Megan was involved with the Churchill Fox Project from 2017-2020 during her MSc. Her research focused on Arctic fox winter dietary trends using next generation sequencing of fecal DNA. Megan is currently a research associate at the Wildlife Genomics & Disease Ecology Laboratory at the University of Wyoming.

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Caila Kucheravy

BSc Honours 2020

For her Honours research, Caila examined the ecosystem engineering effects of red foxes on the reproduction of white spruce trees at the forest-tundra ecotone near Churchill. Her thesis was co-supervised by John Markham. She also assisted with field work for the Churchill Fox Project for two seasons.

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Jessica Lang

MSc 2019

During her Master’s degree, Jess  investigated the role of red foxes as ecosystem engineers near the Arctic treeline. Specifically, her thesis examined and quantified the impacts of red fox denning on northern plant communities, soil properties and tree growth in the boreal forest near Churchill. This work was co-supervised with Dr. John Markham. Since graduating, Jess has been exploring opportunities as a field technician and is working towards becoming an accredited wildlife biologist with The Wildlife Society.

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Audrey Moizan

MSc 2020

Audrey graduated with a DVM from Liege University (Belgium) and in 2019 she did a Msc in Conservation at Sorbonne University (France). She collaborated with the University of Manitoba and Churchill Fox Project for her thesis research. Her project was focused on understanding how red and Arctic foxes choose their dens on the tundra, and if they compete over shelter.

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Jacquelyn Verstege

MSc 2016

Jackie researched the influence of snow and climate on trophic and non-trophic interactions between Arctic foxes and lemmings. The first research objective was to determine population trends of Arctic foxes and factors limiting their population growth. The second objective was to explore how Arctic fox ecosystem engineering attracted lemmings to overwinter on dens of their predators, the Arctic fox. Jackie currently works in environmental consulting performing baseline surveys and environmental monitoring of construction projects within the energy sector.

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Shu-Ting Zhao

BSc Honours 2016

Shu joined the project in 2015 for her BSc honors thesis. Shu investigated whether Arctic foxes subsidize other herbivores and predators through their ecosystem engineering behavior at dens. Using a paired study design, she compared the frequency that wildlife were captured on cameras at dens vs. control areas to determine if wildlife were attracted to fox dens. Shu recently completed her MSc at the University of Manitoba evaluating individual variation in nursing duration and diet among narwhals in the eastern Canadian Arctic using stable isotopes from embedded teeth.

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Tazarve Gharajehdaghipour

MSc 2015

Taz worked on the Churchill Fox Project from 2013–2015 as a master's student at the University of Manitoba. Taz's research was focused on evaluating the role of Arctic fox ecosystem engineering on the tundra. Her research revealed that Arctic fox ecosystem engineering positively influences soil nutrients and plant productivity around dens, which in turn paradoxically attracts lemmings to build nests on these dens. Taz is currently a PhD student at the University of British Columbia where her research seeks to understand the extent of bottom-up and top-down effects of forest harvesting and natural disturbances on caribou.

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Paul Fafard

BSc Honours 2015

Paul conducted his honors thesis research with the Churchill Fox Project during the summer of 2014. His research focused on evaluating whether plant communities on Arctic fox dens differed from other areas on the tundra. Paul's research was recently published in the Journal of Vegetation Science. He currently works as a Field Sampling Technician for the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area.

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Alyssa Eby

BSc Honours 2015

Alyssa joined the project in 2014 for her BSc honours thesis. Using isotopic samples, she investigated the dietary breadth and overlap between Arctic and red foxes in response to lemming population dynamics. After completing her BSc she worked as a field technician on several seabird monitoring projects. Alyssa is now continuing work in the Arctic, pursuing her Master’s degree studying the foraging ecology and energetic physiology of thick-billed murres, an Arctic breeding seabird at Coats Island, Nunavut with the University of Windsor.

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Olwyn Friesen

MSc 2013

ResearchGate Profile     Personal website

Olwyn studied the relationships between Arctic and red fox diets and their parasite communities while part of the fox project. She also considered how other factors, including fox behaviour, life history, and intraspecific variation (e.g., age and sex), influenced their parasite communities. Olwyn is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Northern Research at the University of Manitoba studying the diversity of molluscs and their parasites throughout the Arctic.

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Ryan McDonald

MSc 2013

Ryan McDonald worked on the Churchill Fox Project from 2010–2013. His research focused on Arctic fox diets and potential sources of stress that might influence arctic fox population dynamics. Results of Ryan’s work on the Churchill Fox Project have been published in the journals Polar Research and the Canadian Journal of Zoology. Since completing his work on the Churchill Fox Project, Ryan has gone on to work as a biological consultant, primarily assessing risks related to renewable energy development.

Project Collaborators

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John Markham

Professor

University of Manitoba

Email: John.Markham@umanitoba.ca

John Markham is a professor in the department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba. John has a PhD in forest ecology and prior to that did research in intertidal ecology and was a high school teacher. Since 2016, he has collaborated with the Churchill Fox Project on the effects of foxes on plant communities in the tundra and woodland areas. This work is now expanding to examine how the consumer and detrital food chains interact to affect the upland plant communities in the region. John’s other research interests include the ecology of tallgrass prairies, restoration of boreal mine sites, and the ecology of nitrogen fixation, particularly actinorhizal plants and associative nitrogen fixation in non vascular plants.

Stephen Petersen

Director, Conservation and Research

Assiniboine Park Zoo

Ryan Brook

Associate Professor

University of Saskatchewan