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Marie-Hélène Brice

Marie-Hélène Brice
Photo: IRBV / Amélie Philibert
Marie-Hélène Brice
  • Marie-Hélène Brice
  • Plant life near the A25 Bridge, on the banks of Rivière des Prairies.
  • Aerial view of a spruce stand.
  • Laurentian forest.

A researcher at the Jardin botanique since 2021, I’m a biologist specializing in forest ecology and digital ecology. The goal of my research is to understand how plant communities respond to global changes. My projects range from vast stretches of boreal forest to small green spaces in urban settings.

  • Research botanist, Jardin botanique de Montréal
  • Associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Université de Montréal

Areas of research and expertise

  • Forest dynamics
  • Biodiversity of plant communities
  • Climate change
  • Disturbance ecology
  • Urban ecology
  • Resilience


Doctorate – Biological sciences, 2020
Université de Montréal

About my work

The goal of my research is to understand how plant communities respond to global changes, notably to global warming, to forest management and to urbanization.

I study both boreal forests and green spaces in urban environments. I analyze changes in biodiversity in space and time and try to understand the causes. My research is motivated by a strong desire to translate scientific discoveries into knowledge benefiting conservation and planning.

Studying past changes to better predict the future

How have human and natural disturbances influenced forest dynamics in the past? What will their effects be on forest trajectories in the future? And what disruptive influence will climate change have on those trajectories? To answer these questions, I use a broad range of methods. In order to understand past changes, I conduct inventories of plant life or I analyze databases to compare historical and contemporary inventories. By way of data on climate, land use and disturbance histories, I’m able to identify the causes of these changes.

And to project forest composition into the future, I’ll use modeling, which allows me to play with numerous environmental factors in isolation or interacting. To ensure my research projects’ success I collaborate with specialists in different fields, such as foresters, horticulturists and modelers.

Why I love research

I chose research as a way of advancing knowledge and, in my own small way, changing the world! I love nature, I want to get to know it better so that I can understand it better. That’s what I do in my collaborations with different specialists and with students, taking measures in the field or analyzing data.

My main source of motivation is the hope that my work will be a useful resource for improving ecosystem conservation and management. The more I learn about them, the better I can respond to concrete issues, but at the same time, the more I ask myself new questions. It’s that dynamic that makes this work so exciting.

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