Boyce Lab

Josh Pigeon, M.Sc.

Climate change and multivariate morphometrics of marten.

Climate change is currently the biggest threat facing the planet. Future climates are predicted to be more variable and this uncertainty in climate makes exploration into how this relates to ecology paramount. A collection of American marten (Martes americana) skulls has been gathered annually in Nordegg over the majority of the last 20 years, making it unique not only due to its size and consistency in the area, but also because it has been consistently assembled during a time when the global climate has changed the most. We will examine the variation in long term weather patterns at Nordegg, Alberta and how this relates to a time series of morphometric data from American marten collected over 20 years within 25km of Nordegg. Our research will analyze the structure of climate metrics and how these relate to variation in the morphology of American marten. Variance will be categorized by source, and process variance will be analyzed for year-to-year growth variation, as well as within-individual deviations from bilateral symmetry. These asymmetry data will be further analyzed to differentiate between antisymmetry, directional asymmetry and fluctuating asymmetry. Early analysis indicates significant temporal deviations in bilateral symmetry, but further exploration is necessary to detect a correlation between these variations in development and variations in annual weather patterns. Given global climate change that is well documented, we need to better document and anticipate the consequences for Alberta’s wildlife on a local scale.