Emily Charry Tissier – M.Sc.

Emily spear-headed our first vegetation studies on Sable Island, allowing us to take an integrative, holistic, approach to understanding the complex relationships between the feral horse population and their environment.  Under co-supervision with Dr. Jill Johnstone, University of Saskatchewan, Emily examined vegetation community responses to natural disturbances using abiotic field measurements coupled with community composition observations. A main objective of Emily’s work was to identify relationships between the distribution of plant species, their functional traits, and disturbance severity. Specifically looking at plant traits to better understand how they respond to various types of environmental stress allowed her to paint a more intricate picture of the many possible successional trajectories taking place in this dynamic dune system versus a more simplified unimodal chronosequence. Because island dunes are exceptionally dynamic systems where the physical environment, especially storm events, plays a dominant role in shaping biotic communities, it is paramount we understand how more frequent severe storm events may shape the coastal dune vegetation ecosystem and its inhabitants. Island gradients have not been examined in this framework and may show successional patterns that differ from presenting simply a shortened version of the beach-inland gradients.  Emily continues to work with our lab on various publications linked to her thesis.