S Ellen Macdonald

Ellen Macdonald

Professor, Forest Ecology

Phone: 780-492-3070
Email: ellen.macdonald@ualberta.ca
Department: Renewable Resources
Office: 743 General Services
Office Hours: By appointment
Address: University of Alberta
743 General Services
Edmonton, AB
Canada T6G 2H1

Job/Research Area: Forest ecology and plant biodiversity

Ellen Macdonald is a participant in the Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS) program sponsored by NSERC CREATE.

Major Responsibilities/Research Interests: The influence of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on the ecology and plant biodiversity of the boreal forest (see EMEND projects). Regeneration processes and successional dynamics of boreal mixedwood forest. Restoration ecology in northern ecosysteems.


  • Canadian Institute of Forestry Scientific Achievement Award (2014)
  • Izaak Walton Killam Annual Professor (2007/08)
  • Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences - Teacher of the Year (2004, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, Dept. of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta (1999) 

University of Alberta Libraries Education and Research Archive - Collections in Department of Renewable Resources 

Selected Publications


Macdonald, S.E, A.E.K. Snively, J. M. Fair, S. M. Landhäusser. 2015. Early trajectories of forest understory development on reclamation sites: influence of forest floor placement and a cover crop. Restoration Ecology doi: 10.1111/rec.12217

Clason, A. , S.E. Macdonald, S. Haeussler. 2015. Forest response to cumulative disturbance and stress: The resilience of whitebark pine forests of west-central British Columbia. Écoscience 21: 174-185. 

Gendreau-Berthiaume, B., S.E. Macdonald, J. Stadt, R. Hnatiuk. 2015. How dynamic are understory communities and the processes structuring them still dynamic in mature conifer forest? Ecosphere 6(2):27. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00308.1

Harper, Karen A., S. Ellen Macdonald, Michael S. Mayerhofer, Shekhar R. Biswas, Per-Anders Esseen, Kristoffer Hylander, Katherine J. Stewart, Azim U. Mallik, Pierre Drapeau, Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson, Daniel Lesieur, Jari Kouki and Yves Bergeron. 2015. Edge influence on vegetation at natural and anthropogenic edges of circumboreal forests. Journal of Ecology 103: 550-562 doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12398


Bernes, C., B.-G. Jonsson, K. Junninen, A. Lõhmus, S.E. Macdonald, J. Müller, J. Sandström. 2014. What is the impact of active management on biodiversity in forests set aside for conservation or restoration? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence 3:22 9 pgs. doi:10.1186/2047-2382-3-22 

Fedrowitz, K., J. Koricheva, S.C. Baker, D.B. Lindenmayer, B. Palik, P. Rosenbald, W. Beese, J.F. Franklin, J. Kouki, E. Macdonald, C. Messier, A. Sverdrup-Thygeson, L. Gustafsson. 2014. Can retention forestry help conserve biodiversity? A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology 51: 1669-1679. 

Bergeron, Y., H.Y.H. Chen, N.C. Kenkel, A.L. Leduc, and S.E. Macdonald. 2014. Boreal mixedwood stand dynamics: ecological processes underlying a diversity of expressions. Forestry Chronicle 90: 202-213. 

Gärtner, S.M., M. Bokalo, S.E. Macdonald, K. Stadt. 2014. Variation in post-fire regeneration of boreal mixedwoods forests: underlying factors and implications for natural disturbance-based management. New Forests 45: 215-234.

Abele, S.E., S.E. Macdonald and J.R. Spence. 2014. Terrestrial gastropod diversity in boreal mixedwood forests: effects of cover-type and environmental characteristics. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44: 36–44.


McIntosh, A.C.S., and S.E. Macdonald. 2013. Mountain pine beetle moves east: short-term resistance of above- and below-ground properties and processes to simulated mountain pine beetle attack in a novel landscape. Ecosphere 4(6): article 68 doi/pdf/10.1890/ES12-00344.1

Caners, R.T., S. E. Macdonald and R.J. Belland. 2013. Biological traits of boreal bryophytes explain sensitivity of species to habitat change after partial harvesting. Forest Ecology & Management 303: 184-194.

McIntosh, A.C.S., S.E.Macdonald and S. A. Quideau. 2013. Linkages between the forest floor microbial community and resource heterogeneity within mature lodgepole pine forests. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 63: 61-72

McIntosh, A.C.S. and S.E. Macdonald. 2013. Potential for lodgepole pine regeneration after mountain pine beetle attack in newly invaded Alberta stands. Forest Ecology & Management 295: 11-19.

Caners, R.T., S. E. Macdonald, R. J. Belland. 2013. Bryophyte assemblage structure after partial harvesting in boreal mixedwood forest depends on residual canopy abundance and composition. Forest Ecology & Management 289: 489-500.


Crisfield, V., S.E. Macdonald, J. Gould. 2012. Effects of recreational traffic on alpine plant communities in the northern Canadian Rockies. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 44: 277-287.

McIntosh, A., S.E. Macdonald, and M. Gundale. 2012. Tree species versus regional controls on ecosystem properties and processes: an example using introduced Pinus contorta in Swedish boreal forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 42: 1228-1238.

Schmiedinger, A., J. Kreyling, M.J. Steinbauer, S.E. Macdonald, A. Jentsch, C. Beierkuhnlein. 2012. A continental comparison indicates long-term effects of forest management on understory diversity in coniferous forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 42: 1239–1252.

Chavez, V., and S.E. Macdonald. 2012. Partitioning vascular understory diversity in boreal mixedwood forests: the importance of mixed canopies for diversity conservation. Forest Ecology and Management 271: 19-26.

Lilles, E., B. Purdy, S.E. Macdonald and S. Chang. 2012. Growth of aspen and white spruce on naturally saline sites in northern Alberta: Implications for development of boreal forest vegetation on reclaimed saline soils. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 92: 213-227.

Other selected publications

Burton, P.J. and S.E. Macdonald. 2011. The Restorative Imperative: Challenges, objectives and approaches to restoring naturalness in forests. Silva Fennica 45 (5): 843-863.

Gärtner, S.M., V.J. Lieffers and S. E. Macdonald. 2011. Ecology and management of natural regeneration of white spruce in the boreal forest. Environmental Reviews 19: 461-478.

Harper, K.A. and S.E. Macdonald. 2011. Quantifying distance of edge influence: A comparison of methods and a new randomization method. Ecosphere 2(8): art94. DOI: 10-1890/ES11-00146.1

Cavard, Xavier, S.E. Macdonald, Y. Bergeron and H. Chen. 2011. Are mixedwoods important for biodiversity conservation in boreal and temperate forests? Environmental Reviews 19: 142-161.

Chavez, V., and S.E. Macdonald. 2010. The influence of canopy patch mosaics on understory plant community composition in boreal mixedwood forest. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 1067-1075

Craig, A., S.E. Macdonald. 2009. Threshold effects of variable retention harvesting on understory plant communities in the boreal mixedwood forest. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 2619-2627