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Fungi and plants in the forest subject of UNBC’s annual Doug Little Memorial lecture


Andy MacKinnon. UNBC photo
Andy MacKinnon. UNBC photo

The relationship between fungi and plants in the forest is the focus of the annual Doug Little Memorial Lecture at the University of Northern British Columbia’s Prince George campus on Thursday, Nov. 23.

Andy MacKinnon, a retired forest ecologist, will talk about the various and diverse collaborations among plants and fungi during his lecture titled, Competition and Collaboration, at 7:30 p.m. at the Canfor Theatre. It’s organized by UNBC’s Ecosystem Science and Management Program.

“Most of my talk will be about those collaborations – and how studying them, and learning about them, has ultimately and fundamentally transformed my understanding about how forests work. And perhaps taught me just a little bit about the benefits of collaboration,” said MacKinnon, who began his career a research ecologist for the B.C. Forest Service’s Prince George office from 1982 – 1988.

MacKinnon’s work in Prince George was primarily with plants, and many of his research projects concerned competition between conifer crop seedlings and other plant species (competing vegetation).

He was a partner in research trials looking at various methods – especially mechanical site preparation for preparing sites for conifer regeneration and for controlling competing vegetation.

He also worked with others who were considering some of the potential positive influences of other plant (or even microbial) species on conifer survival and growth. Those projects included white spruce regeneration under trembling aspen, and lodgepole pine growth with and without Sitka alder.

Until MacKinnon retired in 2015, he worked for the B.C. Forest Service on-and-off for three decades, mostly on B.C.’s coast, where he was responsible for ecosystem classification and mapping and a program of forest ecology research focused on old growth structure and composition, effects of climate change and B.C.’s native plants and fungi.

In addition to being involved in defining and implementing ecosystem-based management in Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest, MacKinnon is also best-known for co-writing a series of six best-selling books about plants for western North America.

The Doug Little Memorial Lecture series was initiated in 1996 by the Faculty of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at UNBC and named for the late J.D. Little. Little, a former executive with Northwood Pulp and Timber Ltd., was a founding supporter of UNBC. The lecture series is supported with an endowment from Northwood Pulp and Timber Limited (now Canfor).

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