Martin P. Girardin

Research Scientist

Research covering dendrochronology, global ecology and climatology, climate reconstruction, fire history, climatology and atmospheric sciences, tree growth and environment, water balance modeling, forest dynamics, peatland dynamics, disturbance dynamics, insect disturbance history, forest productivity, etc.

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

Mirabel, A. Girardin, M.P., Metsaranta, J, Way, D., Reich, P.B. 2023. Increasing atmospheric dryness reduces boreal forest tree growth. Nature Communications 14, 6901.

Gaboriau, D.M., Chaste, E., Asselin, H., Ali, A.A., Bergeron, Y., Girardin, M.P., Hély, C. 2023. Interactions within the climate-vegetation-fire nexus may transform 21st century boreal forests in northwestern Canada. iScience26, 6, 106807,

Mirabel, A., Girardin, M.P., Metsaranta, J., Campbell, E., Arsenault, A., Way, D., Reich, P.B. 2022. New tree-ring data from Canadian boreal and hemi-boreal forests provide insight for improving the climate sensitivity of terrestrial biosphere models. Science of The Total Environment 851, 158062,

Girardin, M.P., Guo, X.J., Gervais, D., Metsaranta, J., Campbell, E.M., Arsenault, A., Isaac-Renton, M., Hogg, E.H. 2022. Cold-season freeze frequency is a pervasive driver of subcontinental forest growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 119 (18) e2117464119. doi:10.1073/pnas.2117464119.

Marchand, W., Girardin, M.P., Hartmann, H., Lévesque, M., Gauthier, S., Bergeron, Y. 2021. Contrasting life-history traits of black spruce and jack pine influence their physiological response to drought and growth recovery in northeastern boreal Canada. Science of The Total Environment, 148514.

Girardin, M.P., Guo, X.J., Metsaranta, J., Gervais, D., Campbell, E., Arsenault, A., Isaac-Rentone, M., Harvey, J.E., Bhatti, J., Hogg, E.A. 2021. A national tree-ring repository for Canadian forests (CFS-TRenD): structure, synthesis and applications. Environmental Reviews, 29 (999), 1-17.

Girardin, M.P., Isabel, N., Guo, X.J., Lamothe, M., Duchesne, I., Lenz, P. 2021. Annual aboveground carbon uptake enhancements from assisted gene flow in boreal black spruce forests are not long-lasting. Nature Communications, 12 (1), 1-15.

Gaboriau, D., Remy, C.C., Girardin, M.P., Asselin, H., Hély, C., Bergeron, Y., Ali, A.A. 2020. Temperature and fuel availability control fire size/severity in the boreal forest of central Northwest Territories, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews 250, 106697.

Marchand, W., Girardin, M.P., Hartmann, H., Depardieu, C., Isabel, N., Gauthier, S., Boucher, E., Bergeron, Y. 2020. Strong overestimation of water-use efficiency responses to rising CO2 in tree-ring studies. Global Change Biology 26: 4538– 4558.

Depardieu, C., Girardin, M.P., Nadeau, S., Lenz, P., Bousquet, J., Isabel, N. 2020. Adaptive genetic variation to drought in a widely distributed conifer suggests a potential for increasing forest resilience in a drying climate. New Phytologist 227: 427-439, doi:10.1111/nph.16551.

Girardin, M.P., Portier, J., Remy, C., Ali, A.A., Paillard, J., Blarquez, O., Asselin, H., Gauthier, S., Grondin, P., Bergeron, Y. 2020. Coherent signature of warming-induced extreme sub-continental boreal wildfire activity 4,800 and 1,100 years BP. Environmental Research Letters 14(12): 124042.

Marchand, W., Girardin, M.P., Hartmann, H., Gauthier, S., Bergeron, Y. 2019. Topography, together with ontogeny, competition and soil parameters, drives needleleaf species’ sensitivity to climate in boreal North America. Global Change Biology 25(8): 2793-2809,

Giguère-Croteau, C., Boucher, E., Bergeron, Y., Girardin, M.P., Drobyshev, I., Silva, L.C.R., Hélie, J.F., Garneau, M. 2019. North America’s oldest boreal trees are more efficient water users due to increased [CO2], but do not grow faster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 116(7): 2749-2754.

Chaste, E., Girardin, M.P., Kaplan, J.O., Bergeron, Y., Hély, C. 2019. Increases in heat-induced tree mortality could drive reductions of biomass resources in Canada’s managed boreal forest. Landscape Ecology 34(2): 403–426,

Babst, F., Bouriaud, O., Poulter, B., Trouet, V., Girardin, M.P., Frank, D.C. 2019. Twentieth century redistribution in climatic drivers of global tree growth. Science Advances, 5(1): eaat4313.

De Grandpré, M.P., Kneeshaw, D., Perigon, S., Boucher, D., Marchand, M., Pureswaran, D., Girardin, M.P. 2019. Adverse climatic periods precede and amplify defoliator‐induced tree mortality in eastern boreal North America. Journal of Ecology 107: 452-467,

Marchand, W., Girardin, M.P., Gauthier, S., Hartmann, H., Bouriaud, O., Babst, F., Bergeron, Y. 2018. Untangling methodological and scale considerations in growth and productivity trend estimates of Canada’s forests. Environmental Research Letters 13: 093001.

Babst, F., Bouriaud, O., Poulter, B., Zhang, Z., Trouet, V., Evans, M., Charney, N., Record, S., Enquist, B., Seftigen, K., Björklund, J., Klesse, S., Bodesheim, P., Mahecha, M., Girardin, M., Friend, A., Frank, D. 2018. When tree rings go global: challenges and opportunities for retro- and prospective insight. Quaternary Science Reviews 197: 1-20.

Girardin, M.P., Bouriaud, O., Hogg, E.H., Kurz, W.A., Zimmermann, N.E., Metsaranta, J., de Jong, R., Frank, D.C., Esper, J., Büntgen, U., Guo, X.J., Bhatti, J. 2016. No growth stimulation of Canada’s boreal forest under half-century of combined warming and CO2 fertilization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113: E8406-E8414 doi: 10.3410/f.727103061.793526702 

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.

Girardin, M.P., Ali, A.A., Carcaillet, C., Blarquez, O., Hély, C., Terrier, A., Genries, G., Bergeron, Y. 2013. Vegetation limits the impact of a warm climate on boreal wildfires. New Phytologist : 199: 1001–1011. doi: 10.1111/nph.12322.

Terrier, A., Girardin, M.P., Périé, C., Legendre, P., Bergeron, Y. 2013. Potential changes in forest composition could reduce impacts of climate change on boreal wildfires Ecological Applications  23: 21-35

Price, D.T., Alfaro, R.I., Brown, K.J., Flannigan, M., Fleming, R.A., Hogg, E.H., Girardin, M.P., Lakusta, T., Johnston, M., Pedlar, J., McKenney, D.W., Stratton, T., Sturrock, R., Thompson, I., Trofymow, J.A., and Venier, L.A. 2013. Anticipating the consequences of climate change for Canada’s boreal forest ecosystems. Environmental Reviews , 21(4): 322-365, 10.1139/er-2013-0042

Ali, A.A., Blarquez, O., Girardin, M.P., Hély, C., Tinquaut, F., Guellab, A.E., Valsecchi, V., Terrier, A., Bremond, L., Genries, A., Gauthier, S., Bergeron, Y. 2012. Control of the multimillennial wildfire size in boreal North America by spring climatic conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109(51), 20966–20970,doi/10.1073/pnas.1203467109



Research facility

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


Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences de l'environnement and Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Institut de recherche sur les forêts