Martin Girardin

Research Scientist

Modeling and Forest Productivity

Current research and/or projects


It all began in 1998, when I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree program in biology. As part of a special project, I carried out a study on the impact of climate variability and larch sawfly outbreaks on the growth of tamarack trees. From 1999 to 2001, I did graduate-level studies, during which I did research to determine the dynamics of tamarack bogs. At that time, very little was known about the dynamics of these boreal forest stands. My goal was also to determine the main ecological factors associated with vegetation distribution and the factors controlling tamarack radial growth. By studying the growth rings, I was able to demonstrate that several major larch sawfly outbreaks had decimated these stands in the western part of the Province of Québec. From 2001 to 2005, I continued my studies towards a PhD degree. In particular, I worked on the reconstitution of fire risk over the past three centuries in Canada’s boreal forests by studying the growth rings of trees. Fire activity in boreal forests is a major process that has repercussions on the global carbon cycle and atmospheric chemistry. This process also contributes considerably to the functioning of the terrestrial ecosystem and to the maintenance of biodiversity. Since I was hired at the Canadian Forest Service as a research scientist in 2005, I have done a vast amount of work on climate change and fire risk. My work focuses primarily on the reconstitution of past variability of fire risk using paleo-ecological data and simulations from climate models. Another major component of my work consists of studying the impact of climate change on forest productivity and carbon fluxes. The 20th century was a pivotal period for North America’s northern environments. In fact, this period saw the beginning of rapid climate warming caused by changes in the composition of the atmosphere resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. Accelerated melting of the Arctic ice pack is one of the effects of this climate change. But what about boreal forests farther south? Are they in better or worse condition than before? This is a core issue in the work that I am currently doing.

Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Meta-syntheses of forest growth data: mapping of species-specific trends in forest growth across Canada’s forests based on tree-ring records collected through the Canadian National Forest Inventory (NFI) program and other sources;
  • Projection of climate change impacts on forests: application of bioclimate model projections for understanding of processes (climate, CO2 fertilization, demographics) regulating carbon assimilation by forests;
  • Metadata synthesis of climate, fire and vegetation interactions in North American boreal forests during past millenniums: assessment of trends in past wildfires and vegetation changes in boreal North America documented by multiple high resolution lacustrine charcoal records, global climate model simulations and pollen records;
  • National Tree Ring Data from common garden experiments and linkage with genomics to help assisted migration research: assess how the tree genotype can contribute to mitigate or alter the response of the forest productivity to climate variability in different common garden experiments.

Professional activities / interests

  • Associate editor of the International Journal of Wildland Fire.
  • Presentations at conferences.
  • Supervision of graduate students and professional and technical staff.
  • Communication with the medias and public.
  • Review of scientific texts and grant applications.
  • Professional advice.
  • Transfer of data, product and service.

Education and awards


B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology, Université du Québec à Montréal, 1999 and 2001.

Ph.D. in Botany, University of Manitoba, 2005.

Postdoctorate Fellow, Université Laval, 2005.


Postdoctoral scholarship from NSERC, 2005.

Doctoral scholarship from the Prairies Adaptation Research Collaborative, 2005.

Doctoral scholarship from the Groupe de recherche en écologie forestière inter-universitaire (GREFi), 2002.

Doctoral scholarship from the Fonds Québecois de Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies, 2002.

Key publications

  1. Girardin, M.P.; Hogg, E.H.; Bernier, P.Y.; Kurz, W.A.; Guo, X.J.; Cyr, G. 2016. Negative impacts of high temperatures on growth of black spruce forests intensify with the anticipated climate warming. Global Change Biology 22, 627–643. doi:10.1111/gcb.13072.
  2. Waito, J.; Girardin, M.P.; Tardif, J.C.; Hély, C.; Blarquez, O.; Ali, A.A. 2015. Fire and climate: using the past to predict the future. In: Routledge Handbook of Forest Ecology, edited by K.S.-H. Peh, R.T. Corlett, and Y. Bergeron.
  3. Blarquez, O.; Ali, A.A.; Girardin, M.P.; Grondin, P.; Fréchette, B.; Bergeron, Y.; Hély, C. 2015. Regional paleofire regimes affected by non-uniform climate, vegetation and human drivers. Sci. Rep. 5:13356. doi:10.1038/srep13356.
  4. Housset, J.M.; Girardin, M.P.; Baconnet, M.; Carcaillet, C.; Bergeron, Y. 2015. Unexpected warming-induced growth decline in Thuja occidentalis at its northern limits in North America. J. Biogeogr. 42:1233-1245. doi:10.1111/jbi.12508.
  5. Girardin, M.P.; Terrier, A. 2015. Mitigating risks of future wildfires by management of the forest composition: an analysis of the offsetting potential through boreal Canada. Climatic Change 130:587-601. doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1373-7.

For more publications by this author, consult the CFS publications database.

Research facility

1055, rue du Peps P. O. Box 3800
Sainte Foy, QC G1V 4C7


Université du Québec à Montréal, Department of Environmental Sciences