For Samantha Morin, Master of Science candidate in Trent University’s Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, wildlife is an intrinsically valuable part of the natural world.
“Along with having important cultural and economic roles, wildlife also has the capacity to inspire and motivate people,” said Ms. Morin. “When wildlife is protected, wild spaces are protected.”
It is this passion for wildlife conservation that has led Ms. Morin to a new and exciting opportunity. She was recently named the recipient of a 2017 W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship for Northern Conservation through Wildlife Conservation Canada. The $20,000 in funding will assist Ms. Morin in her study of fine-scale habitat selection by Canada lynx and bobcats in northern Ontario.
Born out of past fieldwork experiences that have fostered a growing fascination with carnivores and now wild cats, Ms. Morin’s passion for this area of study sparked a focus on the Canada lynx, which she describes as an iconic boreal species that has been experiencing a range reduction over the past several decades. Conversely, the bobcat has mysteriously seen an expanding distribution in northern Ontario, leading Ms. Morin to study the interactions between the two species and understand more of their ecology.
The project is being conducted alongside research started by Robby Marrotte, a Ph.D. candidate also in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program at Trent, who is studying the niche dynamics of both species and the connectivity for the bobcat within the study area. Ms. Morin is now looking into the resources that bobcats and lynx use in their home ranges by using snow tracking and GPS collars that have been placed on cats found along the north shore of Lake Huron.
Ms. Morin says that it was the support she receives at Trent University that equips her with the resources necessary to bring this project to a reality. Since starting the Environmental and Life Sciences program in September, she says that she has found a place, and a group of colleagues, that have provided the time, resources and opportunities necessary to take on this exciting assignment.
“I was drawn to Trent because of its close-knit community and collaborative atmosphere, as well as the beautiful campus setting,” says Ms. Morin. “Trent has helped me find my footing through providing various resources, as well as a welcoming and inspiring research environment.”
Learn more about the Environmental and Life Science graduate program at Trent.