Colin Bergeron, originally from the Gaspé Péninsula on the east coast of Québec, came to Alberta in the summer of 2001 to work as a field crew member for the EMEND (Ecosystem Management by Emulating Natural Disturbance) experiment near Peace River. With the experience gained during that summer, Colin saw an opportunity to develop his own research project and in the fall of 2001 began a Masters degree in the Department of Renewable Resources with Dr. John Spence and Dr. Jan Volney of the Northern Forestry Centre. In the fall of 2003 he moved into the PhD program. Since 2005 has been the co-instructor of the forest entomology course in the department.
Colin’s research interests concentrate on the disturbances occurring in boreal landscapes and their effects on the health of vegetation, animal and human societies. In his PhD project, Colin uses dendrochronology to reconstruct the fire and insect outbreak history of the EMEND landscape and entomology to assess biodiversity patterns associated with the forest mosaic shaped by these natural disturbances. He has found that distinct, late successional, rare tree and beetle species occur mainly on north facing aspects where fire has been scarce over the last 200 years. The lowland portion of the EMEND landscape supports tree and beetle assemblages with low species richness, dominated by few species well adapted to wet habitats. Species assemblages on the upland are richer and species are more evenly distributed. The distribution of tree and beetle species also reflects standard ecosite classifications and may therefore serve as a base to establish conservation priorities in north western Alberta.
In his research, Colin has collaborated with the provincial and federal governments, forest companies, and the general public who use and manage the land in north western Alberta. He visited high schools, participated in public expositions and spent time at the DMI and CanFor mills to talk about EMEND, share his results and hear the different opinions of the people using the forest in the Peace River area. Colin comes by his interest in forest-based communities in northwestern Alberta honestly; his home region, Vallée de la Matapédia, was designated Canadian Forestry Capital in 1993. But his favourite forest activities, besides understanding the ecological processes, are still climbing trees and eating wild berries.
Colin is also an accomplished fiddle player. He has been playing his fiddle at parties along with foot clapping (podorythm) for almost a quarter of a century. He is one of the founding members of the band “Pinned”, composed of entomologists. You can visit the pinned myspace site at http://www.myspace.com/pinnedmusic. In his spare time, Colin also likes to get his hands dirty and learn car repair. He is crew member for a roof chop project that you can visit at the following site: http://www.ualberta.ca/~jjacobs/roofchop/roofchop2.htm.
On campus, when not with his computer, you might see Colin at the climbing wall, in the swimming pool, playing fiddle in the sun, or enjoying a pint of dark beer.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2007 edition of the Landmark Newsletter.