Dr. Stan Boutin honoured for his contributions to mammal ecology
CMN Co-Research Director Dr. Stan Boutin is a true leader in the world of mammal population ecology. Dr. Boutin was presented with the 2018 Merriam Award at the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. His decades of research have illuminated many important factors driving the evolution and dynamics of wildlife populations. His work also encompasses his roles as Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, Science Co-Director at the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Boutin is best known for his long-term population research on boreal forests mammals and has conducted one of the largest population studies ever undertaken. The study includes over 10,000 individual red squirrels living in the boreal forest in the Yukon, sampled over more than 25 years.
These experiments allowed Boutin to investigate how food and resource availability affects maternal investment, development of offspring and lifetime reproductive success. His main goal is to find out how past conditions affect the evolution, phenotypic plasticity, population dynamics, energetics, maternal care, fitness and behaviour in boreal mammals.
Boutin also extensively studied the effect of predation pressure on snowshoe hare populations in the boreal forest. He found that Canada’s boreal forest predator-prey cycles are driven by snowshoe hares and lynx, whose populations rise and fall in 10-year cycles. In contrast, in Scandinavia’s boreal forest, there is a completely different predation system in place: vole populations (small mammals similar to mice) cycle with weasels and foxes in a five-year pattern.
Boutin also studies how climate change and human land-use issues are affecting mammal populations in Canada’s North. His work on climate change, land-use and conservation now includes the role of Co-Research Director of the Canadian Mountain Network, where he is helping set the agenda for interdisciplinary mountain research that incorporates the environment, economics and society.