Geography and the Environment

Paleoecology lab

Welcome from the Director

The focus of my research program and the paleoecology lab is to better understand natural hazards and past environmental change, particularly as they relate to vegetation ecology.

Research themes include paleoseismology (past earthquakes), paleohydrology (past floods), fire history, and ecosystem function in response to climate and human-induced change. This variety of projects enables me to include many students and to make connections between different cause and effect relationships.

Techniques used in the lab pertain mostly to palynology (identification and quantification of pollen and other organic-walled microfossils) and dendrochronology.

With these techniques and analyses of sediments and peats (humification, loss on ignition, total carbon and nitrogen, and radioisotopes for age-depth modelling) students and I are able to reconstruct changes in vegetation across sedimentary contacts including abrupt contacts that can result from earthquakes and floods.

Trees killed or damaged by earthquake-induced shaking and flooding help refine age estimates and can record information about the magnitude of a catastrophic event.

A principal function of the paleoecology lab is to train undergraduate and graduate students on a continuous basis in a variety of field and laboratory techniques useful for paleoecological reconstructions of environmental change. Understanding how environments changed in the past helps refine predictive models and risk management.

The interdisciplinary research conducted in the paleoecology lab attracts students and faculty with interests in geography, geology, biology, chemistry, statistics, and fine arts. This training in inquiry-based learning helps to prepare undergraduate students for graduate studies and the workforce.

The paleoecology lab welcomes students from other institutions to work alongside UFV students.

Jonathan Hughes

Lab Director

New Bachelor of Environmental Studies

Develop the skills and knowledge to pursue a variety of environmental careers in both the private and public sectors.

Get the details

Melissa Koyanagi2

"My most valuable experience was certainly the AIG to BC's Interior that I had the pleasure of completing with my peers under the guidance of Gary Fehr and Olav Lian. This experience was in-depth, interesting and relevant to my previous studies in a wide range of subject areas, including postglacial and paraglacial processes, First Nations affairs in BC and BC's evolving economy. I sincerely enjoyed this learning experience and it was the perfect way to cap off my undergraduate studies at UFV."

Head to GATE's blog  to find out more about Melissa and what other graduates have to say about GATE.‌

  • – Melissa Koyanagi
  •    BA with double extended minors in Geography and Psychology

Contact Us