Glen MacDonald

Glen MacDonald: Palynologist in the News

Congratulations to CAP President Glen MacDonald who has been receiving considerable media attention recently. Affaires Universitaires (April 1995, p. 23) featured an article, entitled “Breaking Boreal Barriers”, with Glen discussing the PACT (Paleoecological Analysis of Circumpolar Treeline) project, of which he is project manager and principal investigator. Glen has long been known for his research in Canada’s western boreal forest, and this project builds on and extends that expertise to northern Russia. The article describes a field trip Glen made last summer with a team of Canadian and Russian scientists to examine the forest-tundra transition in northern Russia.

Closer to home, the Globe and Mail (May 6, p. A7) included an article discussing Glen’s work on tree-rings and drought history from Alberta. With one of his graduate students, Rosalyn Case, Glen has examined the tree-ring width patterns from 154 limber pines, the oldest living tree being at least 526 years old, in southwest Alberta. Calibration of the ring-width patterns against instrumental climate data showed that the trees’ growth was influenced by precipitation. This allowed Glen and Rosalyn to reconstruct an annual proxy precipitation measure extending back over 500 years. The ring-widths suggested the occurrence of periodic droughts, with, on the average, a drought every 20 to 30 years. This work has important implications for assessing agricultural viability on the Canadian Prairies.

Alwynne B. Beaudoin
Edmonton, Alberta


Note: This article appeared in CAP Newsletter 18(1):12, 1995.