My Research and Goals

The research in our lab is focused on answering primarily applied questions addressing challenges in tree improvement. This lab began in September 2014 with the task of developing eight projects in conjunction with the forest industry and provincial Government through an industrial research chair in tree improvement. Answers we are currently looking for include:

  1. Determining how to increase the seed yield in a high elevation lodgepole pine orchard and understanding the impact of parent origin on cone serotiny
  2. Understanding ecophysiological responses to drought stress to assist with selection of parents and progeny adapted to climate change (eg: drought)
  3. Evaluating the economic impact of the current tree improvement structure of recognizing genetic gain relative to fibre flow and corporate investments
  4. Understanding the underpinning of hybrid vigour in balsam poplar through disparate population breeding within a species.

More fundamental research interests include understanding the trade-offs in the distribution of trembling aspen on the landscape relative to gender and resource availability. This question is being addressed through phenotypic, ecophysiological and genomic assessments.

Please watch this site or check https://ales-ssl.ales.ualberta.ca/gradpositions for current graduate student positions in my lab.


Featured Publications

    1. Klutsch, J., Kee, C., Cappa, E., Ratcliffe, B., Thomas, B., & Erbilgin, N. 2019 Increment coring induced traumatic resin ducts in white spruce but not in lodgepole pine. Tree-Ring Research In-Press.
    2. Niemczyk, M., Hu, Y. & Thomas, B.R. 2019. Selection of poplar genotypes for adapting to climate change. Forests 10(11), 1041. 
    3. Bockstette, S. & Thomas, B.R. 2019. Impact of genotype and parent origin on the efficacy and optimal timingof GA4/7 stem injections in a lodgepole pine seed orchard. New For. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-019-09733-w
    4. Hu, Y. & Thomas, B.R. 2019. Hormones and heterosis in hybrid balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.). Forests 10(2): 143. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020143 OA (featured manuscript).
    5. Arshad, M., Biswas, K., Bisgrove, S., Schroeder, W., Thomas, B.R., Mansfield, S., Mattson, J. & Plant, A. 2019. Differences in drought tolerance revealed in nine North American hybrid poplars. Trees – Struct. Funct. Pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-019-01846-1
    6. Chang, W-Y, Gaston, C. Cool, J., & Thomas, B.R. A financial analysis of using improved planting stock or white spruce and lodgepole pine in Alberta, Canada: Genomic selection versus traditional breeding. Forestry: An International J of For Res. 92(3), 297-310. 
    7. Chang, W-Y., Wang, S., Gaston, C., Cool, J., An, H., & Thomas, B.R. 2019. Economic evaluations of tree improvement for planted forests: a systematic review. BioProducts Business 4(1),  1-14. 
    8. Khan, S., Thomas, B., de la Mata, R., Randall, M.J., Zhang, W. & Zwiazek, J.J. 2019. Variation in aquaporin and physiological responses among Pinus contorta families under different moisture conditions. Plants 8, 13. doi:10.3390/plants8010013 OA
    9. Goehing, J., Henkel-Johnson, D., Macdonald, E.S., Bork, E.W., & Thomas, B.R. 2019. Spatial partitioning of competitive effects from neighbouring herbaceous vegetation on establishing hybrid poplars in plantations. Can J For Res. doi:10.1139/cjfr-2018-0410 OA
    10. Mamashita, T., Larocque, G. R., DesRochers, A., Beaulieu, J., Thomas, B. R., Mosseler, A., Major, J. and Sidders, D. 2017. Accelerating the selection process for Populus and Salix clones using short-term photosynthetic acclimation responses under greenhouse conditions. Écoscience, 24(1-2), 59-73. DOI: 10.1080/11956860.2017.1361508
    11. Schreiber, S. G., & Thomas, B. R. 2017. Forest industry investment in tree improvement–a wise business decision or a bottomless pit? Answers from a new tree improvement valuation model for Alberta, Canada. The Forestry Chronicle, 93(1), 38-43.
    12. Goehing, J., Thomas, B.R., Macdonald, and S.E., Bork, E.W. 2017. Effects of alternative establishment systems on resource availability, understorey, composition, and tree performance in juvenile hybrid poplar plantations. Forestry, 90(4), 515-529.
    13. Lupi, C., Larocque, G. R., DesRochers, A., Labrecque, M., Mosseler, A., Major, J., Beaulieu, J., Tremblay, F., Gordon, A. M., Thomas, B. R. 2017. Biomass from young hardwood stands on marginal lands: Allometric equations and sampling methods. Biomass and Bioenergy, 98, 172-181.
    14. Thomas, B. R., Schreiber, S. G., & Kamelchuk, D. P. 2016. Impact of planting container type on growth and survival of three hybrid poplar clones in central Alberta, Canada. New Forests, 47(6), 815-827.
    15. Schreiber, S. G., Hacke, U. G., Chamberland, S., Lowe, C. W., Kamelchuk, D., Bräutigam, K., Campbell, M., Thomas, B. R. 2016. Leaf size serves as a proxy for xylem vulnerability to cavitation in plantation trees. Plant, cell & environment, 39(2), 272-281.
    16. Henkel-Johnson, D., Macdonald, S. E., Bork, E. W., & Thomas, B. R. 2016. Influence of weed composition, abundance, and spatial proximity on growth in young hybrid poplar plantations. Forest Ecology and Management, 362, 55-68.
    17. Grenke, J. S., Macdonald, S. E., Thomas, B. R., Moore, C. A., & Bork, E. W. 2016. Relationships between understory vegetation and hybrid poplar growth and size in an operational plantation. The Forestry Chronicle, 92(4), 469-476.
    18. Gray, L. K., Rweyongeza, D., Hamann, A., John, S., & Thomas, B. R. 2016. Developing management strategies for tree improvement programs under climate change: Insights gained from long-term field trials with lodgepole pine. Forest Ecology and Management, 377, 128-138.
    19. Gray, L. K., Hamann, A., John, S., Rweyongeza, D., Barnhardt, L., & Thomas, B. R. 2016. Climate change risk management in tree improvement programs: selection and movement of genotypes. Tree Genetics & Genomes, 12(2), 1-12.
    20. Chang, S. X., Shi, Z., & Thomas, B. R. 2016. Soil respiration and its temperature sensitivity in agricultural and afforested poplar plantation systems in northern Alberta. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 52(5), 629-641.
    21. Adonsou, K. E., DesRochers, A., Tremblay, F., Thomas, B. R., & Isabel, N. 2016. The clonal root system of balsam poplar in upland sites of Quebec and Alberta. Ecology and Evolution, 6(19), 6846-6854.