My research interests centre on the ecology and conservation of prairie fauna. The Canadian prairie presents many challenges to the persistence of its indigenous species, from anthropogenic factors to extreme weather and climate to “natural” ecological community interactions. To identify the significance of particular factors on limiting populations, my studies address ecological questions related to predator/prey interactions, foraging behaviour, habitat selection, and dispersal behaviours.
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Southwestern Saskatchewan is home to an interesting community of snake species. Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers (Coluber constrictor flaviventris), Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) and Bullsnakes (Pituophis catenifer) are at the northern edge of their distribution in this area, presenting a unique opportunity to explore factors that limit their distribution and abundance. In general, snakes have not been well studied on the Canadian prairies, and there are a wide range of research questions that need answering.
Wascana Turtle Program
Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) reach the northern extent of their natural geographic range in Saskatchewan. Factors such as isolation of suitable water bodies and harsh climate likely impact populations of this species on the prairies. We are studying a population of turtles that inhabit the Wascana Creek system right in the middle of Regina.
Small Mammal Ecology
Small mammals play an integral role in grassland ecosystems. Populations fluctuations cascade through predator communities. In addition, there are several species of small mammals in southern Saskatchewan that remain relatively unstudied. Species such as Sagebrush Voles (Lemmiscus curtatus) and Olive-backed Pocket Mice (Perognathus fasciatus) are relatively common but poorly understood. Other species such as Western Harvest Mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis) and Long-tailed Voles (Microtus longicaudus) are at the periphery of their range in Saskatchewan and have yet to be found in the province. For these reasons, many community and species specific questions present themselves.
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I’m always interested in supervising students that bring the enthusiasm to work exceedingly hard on their project while maintaining that positive attitude that enhances the culture of our group. As an adjunct professor, I co-supervise students with professors in the Biology Department at the University of Regina. Most of my students are co-supervised by Dr. Chris Somers.
Somers, C.M., C.F. Graham, J.A. Martino, T.R. Frasier, S.L. Lance, L.E. Gardiner and R.G. Poulin. 2017. Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187322. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187322
Heisler, L.M., R.G. Poulin, and C.M. Somers. 2017. Stop using dichotomous terms to reference observations of scale-dependent habitat selection. Landscape Ecology (DOI 10.1007/s10980-017-0543-6)
Heisler, L.M., C.M. Somers, and R.G. Poulin. 2016. Owl pellets: an effective alternative to conventional trapping for large-scale studies of small mammal diversity. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7: 96-103.
Fisher, R.J., T.I. Wellicome, E.M. Bayne, R.G. Poulin, L.D. Todd, and A.T. Ford. 2015 . Extreme precipitation reduces reproductive output of an endangered raptor. Journal of Applied Ecology 52: 1500-1508.
Gardiner, L.E., C.M. Somers, D. Parker, and R.G. Poulin 2015. Microhabitat selection by Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) at the northern extreme of their geographic range. Journal of Herpetology 49(1): 131-137.
Heisler, L.M., C.M. Somers, and R.G. Poulin. 2014. Rodent populations on the northern Great Plains respond to weather variation at a landscape scale. Journal of Mammalogy. 95(1) 82-90.
Wellicome, T.I., R. J. Fisher, R.G. Poulin, L.D. Todd, E.M. Bayne, D.T. Flockhart, J.K. Schmutz, K. DeSmet and P.C. James. 2014. Apparent survival of adult Burrowing Owls in Canada is influenced by weather during migration and on their wintering grounds. The Condor: Ornithological Applications 116: 446-458.
Heisler, L.M., T.I. Wellicome, C.M. Somers, and R.G. Poulin. 2013. Landscape-Scale Features Affecting Small Mammal Communities on the Northern Great Plains of North America. Journal of Mammalogy 94(5) 1059-1067.
Wellicome, T.I., L.D. Todd, R.G. Poulin, G.L. Holroyd, and R.J. Fisher. 2013. Comparing food limitation among three stages of nesting: Supplementation experiments with the Burrowing Owl. Ecology and Evolution (Open Access:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.616/abstract).
Gardiner, L.E., C.M. Somers, J.A. Martino, D. Parker, and R.G. Poulin. 2013. Balancing the Dumbbell: Summer habitats need protection in addition to winter dens for northern snake communities. Journal of Wildlife Management77(5) 975-982.
Fortney, A.N., R.G. Poulin, J.A. Martino, D.L. Parker and C.M. Somers. 2012. Proximity to hibernacula and road type influence potential road mortality of snakes in southwestern Saskatchewan. Canadian Field Naturalist 126(3): 194-203.
White, A.J., R.G. Poulin, B. Wissel, J.L. Doucette and C.M. Somers. 2012. Agricultural land use alters trophic status and population density of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) on the North American Great Plains. Canadian Journal of Zoology 90(7): 868-874.
Martino, J.A., R.G. Poulin, D. Parker, and C M. Somers. 2012 Habitat selection by grassland snakes at northern range limits: Implications for conservation. Journal of Wildlife Management 1-9.
Poulin, R.G. and D.T. Schowalter. 2011. First record of Preble’s Shrew in prairie Canada. Blue Jay 69(3) 117-119.
Gardiner, L.E., J.A. Martino, R.G. Poulin, and C.M. Somers. 2011. Eastern yellow-bellied racer populations on the Canadian prairies. Blue Jay 69(2): 70-74.
Poulin, R.G., L.D. Todd, E.A. Haug, B.A. Millsap and M.S. Martell. 2011. Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia). The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/061
Kwiatkowski, M.A., C.M. Somers, R.G. Poulin, D.C. Rudolph, J. Martino, T.D. Tuberville, C. Hagen and S.L. Lance. 2010. Development and characterization of 16 microsatellite markers for the Louisiana pine snake, Pituophis ruthveni, and two congeners of conservation concern. Conservation Genetic Resources 2:163-166.
Floate, K.D., P. Bouchard, G. Holroyd, R. Poulin& and T.I. Wellicome. 2008. Does doramectin use on cattle indirectly affect the endangered Burrowing Owl? Rangeland Management and Ecology 61:543-553.
Todd, L.D., R.G. Poulin, R.M. Brigham, E.M, Bayne, and T.I. Wellicome. 2007. Pre-migratory movements by juvenile Burrowing Owls in a patchy Landscape. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 2(2): 4. [online] URL: http://www.ace-eco.org/vol2/iss2/art4.
Poulin, R.G., L.D. Todd, T.I. Wellicome, and R.M. Brigham. 2006. Assessing the feasibility of release techniques for captive-bred burrowing owls. Journal of Raptor Research 40(2):142-150.
Poulin, R.G. and L.D. Todd. 2006. Sex and nest stage differences in the circadian foraging behaviors of nesting burrowing owls. Condor 108:856-864.
Poulin, R.G., L.D. Todd, K.M. Dohms, R.M. Brigham, and T.I. Wellicome. 2005. Factors associated with nest- and roost-burrow selection by Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) on the Canadian prairies. Canadian Journal of Zoology 83:1373-1380.
Samways, K.M., R.G. Poulin, and R.M. Brigham. 2004. Directional tree felling by beavers (Castor canadensis).Northwest Naturalist 85:48-52.
Fisher, R.J., R.G. Poulin, L.D. Todd, and R.M. Brigham. 2004. Nest stage, wind speed, and air temperature affect the nest defence behaviours of burrowing owls. Canadian Journal of Zoology 82:707-713.
Todd, L.D., R.G. Poulin, T.I. Wellicome, and R.M. Brigham. 2003. Post-fledging survival of burrowing owls in Saskatchewan. Journal of Wildlife Management 67:512-519.
Poulin, R.G., T.I. Wellicome, and L.D. Todd. 2001. Synchronous and delayed numerical responses of a predatory bird community to a vole outbreak on the Canadian Prairies. Journal of Raptor Research 35:288-295.
Poulin, R.G. and R.M. Brigham. 2001. Effects of supplemental calcium on the growth rate of an insectivorous bird: The Purple Martin (Progne subis).Écoscience 8:151-156.
Poulin, R.G., L.D. Todd, and R.M. Brigham. 1998. Male common nighthawk use of gravel roads at night. Prairie Naturalist 30:85-90.
Todd, L.D., R.G. Poulin, and R.M. Brigham. 1998. Diet of Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor: Caprimulgidae) relative to prey abundance in the Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan. American Midland Naturalist 139:20-28.
Corkum, L.D., J.J.H. Ciborowski, and R.G. Poulin. 1997. Effects of emergence date and maternal size on egg development and sizes of eggs and first instar nymphs of a semelparous aquatic insect. Oecologia 111:69-75.
M'Closkey, R.T., S.J. Hecnar, D.R. Chalcraft, J.E. Cotter J. Johnston, and R.G. Poulin. 1997. Colonization and saturation of habitats by lizards. Oikos 78:283-290.
Poulin, R.G., P.A. Bradshaw, and M.D. Graham. 1996. Late spring arrival, nesting and fall departure by Common Nighthawks, Chordeiles minor, in Saskatchewan in 1995. Canadian Field Naturalist 110:539-540.
Poulin, R.G., S.D. Grindal, and R.M. Brigham. 1996. Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). In The Birds of North America, No. 213 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.) The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. doi: 10.2173/bna.213
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Tera Edkins (M.Sc. 2017) – Ecology of grassland snakes in agricultural landscapes.
Kelsey Marchand (M.Sc. 2017) – Ecology of western painted turtles at the northern limit of their prairie distribution.
Alexandria Gallon (B.Sc. Hons. 2017) – Body condition in bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): regional variance by river valley in northern populations.
Ashley Fortney (M.Sc. 2013) - Environmental factors affecting the distributions and abundance of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels
Leanne Heisler (M.Sc. 2013) - Environmental factors affecting the landscape-scale spatio-temporal distribution of small mammal assemblages across the northern Great Plains of North America
Danae Frier (B.Sc. Hons. 2013) - Deuterium enrichment in adult Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia): Implications for using stable isotopes in migration studies
Laura Gardiner (M.Sc. 2012) – Comparative ecology of three sympatric snake species in southwestern Saskatchewan
Shelby Stecyk (B.Sc. Hons. 2012) - The effect of DeltaDust (deltamethrin) and habitat modification by Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) on ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) populations on the northern Great Plains
Holly Hennin (M.Sc. 2010) - Ecological implications of converting cropland to permanent-cover for four native prairie taxa
Jessica Martino (M.Sc. 2010) – Spatial ecology and habitat selection of two sympatric snake species in southwestern Saskatchewan
Alison White (B.Sc. Hons. 2010) - The effects of land use on population structure, body condition and stable isotopes signatures of Peromyscus maniculatus in southern Saskatchewan
Ashley Fortney (B.Sc. Hons. 2010) – Factors affecting road use and road mortality of snakes in southwestern Saskatchewan