I am an ecologist and PhD student in the faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The focus of my thesis is the ‘Fish, Forests, Fungi’ project, where I’m investigating how energy and nutrients derived from dying salmon flow through coastal forests. Salmon come home to their natal streams each fall to spawn and die, and their corpses feed bears, wolves and other forest animals. These distribute the carcasses deep into the forest, and animal urine and feces can carry nutrients kilometers from the sea. From these carcasses plants can gain access to nitrogen and other nutrients that encourage growth; hence salmon can ‘fertilize’ the forest. An often overlooked component in this story is the soil; soils are incredibly active, living places full of bacteria and fungi that act as intermediaries between the salmon and the trees.
The main questions I’m asking are:
1. Which fungi go with which trees?
2. Can we use nitrogen isotope concentrations to measure nitrogen flow?
3. Do mycorrhizal fungi, connected in a ‘mycorrhizal network’, play an active role in processing and distributing nitrogen to trees?
4. If so, how is this system controlled?
My Master’s degree was at McGill university where I studied theoretical ecology in the Loreau and deMazancourt labs. My thesis used data from three sets of experimental grasslands (Dr. David Tilman’s Cedar Creek site, the Jena site in Germany, Dr. Forest Isbell’s site in Texas) to statistically partition variance into different mechanisms explaining diversity-stability relationships. You can read it here. I remain interested in ecological theory and am actively working on projects ranging from the evolution of mutualisms to tree epidemiology.
2013: deMazancourt, C., Isbell, F., Larocque, A., Berendse, F., De Luca, E., Grace, J.Bet al. “Predicting ecosystem stability from community compositionand biodiversity”. Ecology Letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12088, May 2013.
2011: Larocque, Allen. “Untangling mechanisms behind the stability-diversity relationship in experimental grasslands”. Master’s Thesis, McGill University, 2011.
2010: Solomon, Sponarski, Larocque& Aviles. “Social organization of the colonial spider Leucauge sp. in the neotropics: vertical stratification within colonies”. J. Arachnology. 38, 3, pp. 446-451, 2010.
2010: Matthew Mitchell, Jonathan Whiteley, Allen Larocque, Andrew Gonzalez. “Impact of climate change on corridors and ecological services”. Report for Quebec’s Ministry of the environment (MDDEP), 2010.
2007: Claudio H. Slamovits, Juan F. Saldarriaga, Allen Larocque, Patrick J Keeling. “The Highly Reduced and Fragmented Mitochondrial Genome of the Early-branching DinoflagellateOxyrrhis marina Shares Characteristics with both Apicomplexan and Dinoflagellate Mitochondrial Genomes”. J. Mol. Biol. July 2007.
2015: “Fish, Forests, Fungi: The Role of Mycorrhizae in Salmon Forests”. Pacific Evolution and Ecology Conference, Bamfield, BC(regional).
2012: “History in Georgian and Canadian Culture”. A presentation to the students of school 12F, GelatiMonestary, Kutaisi, Republic of Georgia (local, foreign)
2010: “Mechanisms behind stability-diversity relationships in grasslands: a cross-system comparison”. Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, Laval University, Québec City, Québec (national).
2009: “How is Social Spider behaviour shaped by colony structure?” CEEB symposium, McGill University (departmental).
2015: “Fish in the Forest”. CONFORWest conference; Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, USA (regional).