Dr. Vern Peters

Professor, Biology

P: 825-901-2997
  • PhD, University of Alberta, 2003
  • BSc, University of Manitoba, 1995


Vern graduated with a BSc from the University of Manitoba in 1995 and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 2003. His main research interests include fire ecology, tree reproduction, interactions between seed predators, and conifers. Currently, he is studying prescribed fire as a management tool for restoring populations of the endangered limber and whitebark pine in parks. He also uses community-based restoration approaches to engage the public in conservation practice; this work is supported by greenhouse and field-based germination and survivorship experiments he conducts with students. Additionally, Vern serves as a faculty member at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies in Michigan, USA, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta.


Research interests

Fire Ecology of Endangered 5 –Needle Pines
Using fire severity measurements, and microsite data for regenerating seedlings, we are investigating the use of prescribed fire as a management tool for restoring whitebark and limber pine populations in high elevation ecosystems.

Restoration Ecology of Limber Pine
We are engaged in implementing recovery plan actions using community-based restoration initiatives that use field and greenhouse approaches to involve university students, high schools, and church communities in tree-planting efforts.

Research projects

  • Fire severity and 5-needle pine regeneration
  • Reproductive ecology of limber pine and seed predator dynamics
  • Seedling establishment and growth in restoration plantings
  • Greenhouse-based germination and survivorship experiments


Burton, P.J., and Peters, V.S.  2018.  A Crisis in Subalpine Forest Health. In The Alpine Club of Canada’s State of the Mountains Report, Parrott, L., Robinson, Z. and Hik, D. (Editors). Volume 1, May 2018. In press.

Peters, V.S. M. S. Gelderman, and D. R. Visscher.  2017. Resiliency in masting systems:  do evolved seed escape strategies benefit an endangered pine? Ecosphere, 8(9):e01928. 10.1002/ecs2.1928.

Dawe, D. Peters, V.S., and Gondwe, E. 2017. Aborted cones and accuracy in abscission scar counts.  Nutcracker Notes 32:16-18.

Peters, V.S.  2014. Are Northern Limber Pine Populations Seed or Substrate Limited? Nutcracker Notes 26: 12-14.

Peters, V.S. 2012. Limber pine seed mutualisms:  between the devil and the deep blue sea, Nutcracker Notes: 22:11–13. 

Peters, V.S., and Gelderman, M. 2011.  High cone years give limber pine “the edge,” Nutcracker Notes.  21:  12–13.

Peters, V.S., and Vandervalk, L.  2009.  Cone predation of limber pine by red squirrels. Nutcracker Notes.  17:10-12.

Professional affiliations

Associate Professor, The Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, MI, USA

Adjunct Professor, The University of Alberta     

Scientific Reviewer, Provincial and Federal Recovery Plans for Whitebark and Limber Pine