I was born and raised in and around Guelph, Ontario. I obtained my Bachelor’s
Degree (Hons.) from the University of Waterloo’s interdisciplinary
program in Environment & Resource Studies in 1993. Following graduation
I was employed full-time as a consulting analyst on several waste management
projects and environmental planning initiatives throughout southwestern
Ontario. I was able to take a hiatus from work during this period to pursue
a Master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid
Laurier University, which I completed in 1999. I began doctoral studies
in Environmental Biology and Ecology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton
in 2000. I completed my dissertation in 2006 and remained in Edmonton
as a post-doctoral fellow on the International Polar Year and as sessional
lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. I came to Queen’s
in the summer of 2008.
I teach in both the Department of Geography and the School of Environmental
Studies. My teaching interests span the science of ecology and the practice
of environmental management, and I encourage students to integrate the
two whenever possible. I frequently use case studies in my teaching, which
helps students see the link between theory and its application in “the
real world”. I also try to ensure that students studying the natural
world actually get outside and observe it first hand! In the 2008/09 year
I am teaching GPHY318 (Biogeography) and ENSC320 (Wildlife Issues).
Graduate students in my lab can expect to be part of an interdisciplinary
team. Students pursue individual projects but, at the same time, learn
from each other. There are opportunities to use a wide variety of methods
and techniques, including dendrochronology (tree ring analysis), plant
community analysis, GIS and remote sensing, and species distribution and
habitat modeling. My role in this environment is not unlike a coach. I
help each student through the process of research design, data collection
and analysis, but I also help the team to work together.
My research interests lie at the interface of ecology and geography and
my work draws upon and contributes to the fields of biogeography, landscape
ecology, and conservation biology. Current research focuses on the study
of terrestrial ecosystem change at multiple scales. This includes examining
the responses of forest, shrubland and tundra ecosystems to past and future
climate change; but I am equally interested in the implications of such
change for land and resource management, particularly parks and protected
The geographical focus of my research is primarily the circumpolar north,
and particularly northern Canada and Alaska, but I also have a longstanding
interest in the settled landscapes of Ontario and in mountainous regions
worldwide. I have been conducting fieldwork in the Kluane region of southwest
Yukon for over a decade, studying its species and ecosystems as well as
the institutional frameworks that have evolved for their management.
I would be happy to hear from potential graduate students, as well as
undergraduate students, who might be interested in contributing to my
research program, especially if it can fit within one of the following
1. Much of my research attention is currently focused
on a project titled Multiscale Ecology and Dynamics of the
Forest-Tundra Ecotone. This area, commonly called ‘treeline’,
is expected to advance significantly as climate warms. My goal is to determine
how this will occur, and what the ecological effects will be. Examples
of possible student projects include dendrochronological reconstruction
of recent tree and shrub population dynamics, plant community composition
analysis, plant growth responses to experimental treatments, and ecotone
mapping and spatial pattern analysis.
2. I also have a longstanding interest in the science
and tools of biodiversity conservation, including landscape planning,
habitat protection, and protected areas management. These interests are
lumped under the collective title of Biodiversity Conservation
in Dynamic and Heterogeneous Landscapes. There is no single
geographical focus of this work, but landscapes of interest are those
in which change is rapidly occurring or in spatially or institutionally
complex areas. Possible student projects are varied and could gravitate
towards either the biophysical or institutional aspects of conservation.
Danby, R.K. and D.S. Hik. 2007. Variability, contingency and rapid change
in recent subarctic alpine treeline dynamics. Journal of Ecology
Danby, R.K. and D.S. Hik. 2007. Responses of white spruce (Picea glauca)
to experimental warming at a subarctic alpine treeline. Global Change
Biology 13: 437-451.
Danby, R.K., and D.S. Hik. 2007. Evidence of recent treeline dynamics
in southwest Yukon from aerial photographs. Arctic 60 (4): 411-420.
Danby, R.K. and D.S. Slocombe. 2005. Regional ecology, ecosystem geography,
and transboundary protected areas in the St. Elias Mountains. Ecological
Applications 15: 405-422.
Castelden, H., R.K. Danby, A.R. Giles and J.P. Pinard (eds.). 2005. New
Northern Lights: Graduate Research on Circumpolar Studies from the University
of Alberta. Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, Edmonton, AB. 191
Danby, R.K., H. Castelden, A.R. Giles and J. Rausch (eds.). 2004. Breaking
the Ice: Proceedings of the 7th ACUNS (Inter)National Students’
Conference on Northern Studies. Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press,
Edmonton, AB. 296 pages.
Danby, R.K., D.S. Hik, D.S. Slocombe, and A. Williams. 2003. Science
and the St. Elias: an evolving framework for sustainability in North America’s
highest mountains. The Geographical Journal 169: 191-204.
Danby, R.K. 2003. Birds and mammals of the St. Elias Mountain Parks:
checklist evidence for a biogeographic tension zone. Canadian Field
Naturalist 117: 1-18.
Danby, R.K. and D.S. Slocombe. 2002. Protected areas and intergovernmental
cooperation in the St. Elias Region. Natural Resources Journal
Danby, R.K. 2002. Analysis of transborder wildlife populations in the
St. Elias Mountain Parks. In; S. Bondrup-Nielsen et al. (eds.), Managing
Protected Areas in a Changing World. pp. 149-163. Science and Management
of Protected Areas Association, Wolfville, NS.
Danby, R.K. 2002. Fostering an ecosystem perspective through intergovernmental
cooperation: a look at two Alaskan examples. In; S. Bondrup-Nielsen et
al. (eds.), Managing Protected Areas in a Changing World. pp.
722-735. Science and Management of Protected Areas Association, Wolfville,
Danby, R.K. 1997. International transborder protected areas: experience,
benefits and opportunities. Environments 25: 1-17.