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Boreal Ecology (PhD)

From the big picture to the microscopic, set your sights on understanding the natural world around you.

Participate in the global discussion about the issues affecting all organisms and the environments where we co-exist.

Study the interactions between the living and non-living organisms within our boreal ecosystems at all levels, including organism, population, community, ecosystem, and global systems. Understand how all of these interactions work. Apply your knowledge to the issues affecting our world today. Whether that be environmental and energy conservation, resource allocation, and eco-friendliness.


Conseiller ou conseillère aux études

Dr. Mery Martinez-Garcia

Téléphone : (706) 675-1151 ext. 2293

Courriel : mmartinezgarcia@laurentian.ca

Bureau : F-609B, Fraser Building, Sudbury Campus

Comment déposer une demande d'études supérieures Ce programme vous intéresse?
Vue aérienne de l'Université Laurentienne
Le Grand Sudbury est la plus vaste ville en Ontario par superficie terrestre, où les activités de plein air ne manquent pas grâce aux lacs et cours d’eau, terrains variés, forêts et réseaux complets de pistes et de sentiers.
Mode de prestation : Sur campus
Langue du programme : Anglais

Application Process

Step 1. Contact the Graduate Coordinator and/or individual faculty member about the possibility of becoming a student.  Students are encouraged to consult the faculty list on the Faculty Members tab in order to identify a potential supervisor (i.e. a faculty member they would like to work with).  


Step 2. Click here to submit the online application. Once students have applied, they will receive instructions (typically within 48 hours) from the Office of Admissions leading them to the MyLaurentian portal. Students can access the portal at my.laurentian.ca; sign in credentials will be provided in the correspondence received from the Office of Admissions upon successful completion of an application. The following documents will be required in order to complete an application.



  • Three Reference Forms (to begin the process at my.laurentian.ca click on "Reference Submission" on the left-hand navigation menu)
  • Statement of Interest (to be uploaded via MyLaurentian)
  • Curriculum Vitae/Resume (to be uploaded via MyLaurentian)
  • Official Academic Transcript(s) from all post secondary studies* (Please note that current or prior Laurentian University students do not need to request transcripts)  

*Please note that official transcripts or WES course-by-course (for institutions attended outside of North America) must come directly to the Office of Admissions from the previous post secondary institution by requesting at the time of your application or by contacting the institution's Registrar's Office.


Step 3. Once the Admissions Office receives all information and the application is deemed complete, the application will be forwarded to the department.  An Admissions Committee meets to review the applications.


Step 4. The Admissions Committee will review all applications on file and make a decision regarding the suitability of each applicant.  The Admissions Committee will then make a recommendation to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Laurentian University. The Graduate Studies office will verify the dossier and if satisfactory, the Dean of Graduate Studies will forward the recommendation to the Office of Admissions at Laurentian University for admission. 


Step 5: If approved for admission, the Office of Admissions will send the student an Offer of Admission via MyLaurentian.  Applicants wishing to accept the offer of admission must indicate their response on MyLaurentian within 3 weeks of receiving the offer. Once the student has accepted the offer, a transition to the registration process occurs.


Note pour les étudiants actuels

Les options de grade ci-dessous seront offertes lors de la prochaine année universitaire et ne le sont pas cette année. Si vous cherchez les cours à suivre afin de compléter les options d'un programme d'une année universitaire antérieure, svp consultez avec un conseiller académique.

Students must follow these regulations while in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.


Approved Fields of Study:

  • Stressed Aquatic Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Conservation and Restoration Ecology


Program Requirements

BIOL 6000E     Doctoral Thesis

BIOL 6056E     Doctoral Seminars

3 credits of BIOL at the 5000 or 5000 level


The seminar course is designed to assist students in preparing for their comprehensive exam and the academic career that follows.

If necessary, the Ph.D. Advisor Committee of the student may decide to add other courses as a requirement.  To take courses at

other Universities, a permission has to be requested in advance from the Office of Graduate Studies.


Thesis Defence Procedure

Students will be required to present a public seminar and subsequently to undergo an in camera oral defence of their thesis. The Ph.D. thesis evaluation procedure will be established for the University through the office of the Dean, School of Graduate Studies. However, the general features of this procedure are as follows. The Examination Committee for the Ph.D. degree will be composed of a Chair (non-voting), a minimum of two members of the Research Advisory Committee, an examiner external to the Program, and an examiner external to the university. The supervisor will not be a member of the Committee, but will be present at the defence. The Examination Committee will then meet in the absence of the student to discuss his/her performance. The Committee will decide whether the thesis is acceptable for the degree and whether corrections are required before the final approval of the thesis.



The Ph.D. Program in Boreal Ecology has three fields of focus:


Stressed Aquatic Ecosystems

This field deals with research associated with freshwater aquatic systems in the Precambrian Shield and the Hudson Bay Lowlands. It builds upon the excellent research record and databases developed through the collaborative work of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, a partnership between Laurentian University, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment, the City of Greater Sudbury, and the mining industry. As Sudbury has in excess of 300 lakes within the city boundaries and Northern Ontario has many thousands of freshwater lakes, rivers and wetlands, the opportunity to specialize in this area is unlimited. Research topics in this focal area include inorganic metal loading, acid precipitation, global warming, and studies of biotic systems at all trophic levels from prokaryotes to vertebrates.


Sustainable Terrestrial Ecosystems

This field deals with terrestrial ecosystems in the Precambrian Shield and the Hudson Bay Lowlands. It builds on the research record and databases developed through collaborative work between Laurentian University, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the forestry, mining, ecotourism, and trapping industries. Research topics in this area include the sustainability of woodland caribou populations, biodiversity of aquatic beetles, reintroduction of elk into Ontario, ecology of parasites in boreal birds and mammals, ecology of insects associated with shrubs and trees, forestry and pine marten management, and the impact of both natural and anthropogenic disturbances on boreal ecosystems, and studies on the impact of global warming on terrestrial floristic and faunal communities.


Conservation and Restoration Ecology

This field focuses on disturbed ecosystems within the Precambrian Shield and the Hudson Bay Lowlands. It builds on the internationally-recognized research that spearheaded regreening of the Sudbury region, through collaboration by Laurentian University, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the City of Greater Sudbury, and the mining industry. Recent visits and collaborations by Scandinavian and Russian researchers emphasized the global aspects of this field. As Northern Ontario provides access to many mining sites and stressed urban ecosystems, there are unique opportunities for those specializing in this field. Research in this focal area includes studies on acid mine drainage, radionuclide contamination, impacts of heavy metals and pH, soil biology, revegetation and recolonization of damaged industrial lands, identification of acid/metal tolerant species, conservation of vertebrates in aquatic habitats, and the modelling of vegetation recovery.

BIOL-6000EL - Doctoral Thesis BIOL-6056EL - Doctoral Seminars BIOL-5017EL - Population Genetics BIOL-5026EL - Advanced Microbiology I BIOL-5066EL - Selected Topics in Evolutionary Biology I BIOL-5106EL - Experimental Design and Methods of Analysis BIOL-5376EL - Ecological Aspects of Land Reclamation Practice BIOL-5387EL - Selected Topics in Soil Biology and Soil-Plant Relationships BIOL-5396EL - Ecology of Ecosystems Disturbed by Humans
BIOL-5727EL - Advanced Entomology BIOL-5747EL - Topics in Behavioural Ecology BIOL-5747FL - Questions sur l'écologie comportementale BIOL-5767EL - Graduate Limmology BIOL-5786EL - Topics in Animal Physiology BIOL-5797EL - Advanced Environmental Physiology - - -