Katie (Katherine) Black

    Katie (Katherine) Black

    MSc student, Department of Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University (Supervisor: Jennifer Baltzer)

    Thesis Topic: The influence of moisture and nutrient availability on green alder expansion and water use across topographic gradients on the low Arctic tundra of the NWT

    Climate warming is driving the proliferation of tall shrubs across the tundra biome with implications for energy balance, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and tundra biodiversity. I’m interested in understanding the mechanisms that influence the expansion of tall shrub patches in tundra ecosystems. Changes in tundra plant water use attributable to tall shrub expansion are predicted to increase evapotranspirative water loss which may amplify local warming and reduce run-off. 

    To make predictions about the consequences of tall shrub expansion, it is necessary to understand the abiotic factors that constrain shrub distribution. Tall shrubs are preferentially expanding in areas that have a higher potential of accumulating moisture, such as drainage channels and hill slopes. My thesis work focuses on understanding the interactions between water availability, nutrient availability, and topographic features to gain insight into green alder shrub distribution and water use at Trail Valley Creek near Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. Understanding the drivers and limitations of tall shrub expansion is essential for predicting future tundra conditions.


    • In preparation: Black, K.L., Fudge, D.S., & Robinson, B.W. (in preparation). Functional plasticity in the self-amputation of lamellae by larval damselflies in response to predator cues. (Will be submitted to The Journal of Experimental Biology by the end of 2016)

    Awards and Scholarships

    • The W. Garfield Weston Award for Northern Research (Masters); May 2016-April 2017; $15,000.
    • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (Masters); May 2016-April 2017; $15,000. 
    • NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship (Masters); May 2015-April 2016; $17,500. 
    • Wilfrid Laurier University's Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Scholarship; May 2015-April 2016 and May 2016-April 2017; $5,000 each.

    Media Engagement

    Katie was mentioned in Canadian Geographic and Laurier Research for being awarded the W. Garfield Weston Award for Northern Research. Here are the links: