Adam Ford

Associate Professor

Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystems Services (BRAES)
Other Titles: Institute Director, Canada Research Chair in Wildlife Restoration Ecology (Tier 2)
Office: SCI 109
Phone: 250.807.9773

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Wildlife ecology and conservation; mammals; temperate forests, grasslands, and tropical savannas.

Courses & Teaching

Animal ecology


Wildlife Restoration Ecology [WiRE] Lab


PhD University of British Columbia, Liber Ero Fellow

Research Interests & Projects

Goals of my research program

The long-term goal of my research program is to develop a rigorous, ecologically-based approach to quantifying the effectiveness of restoration practices, specifically targeting large mammals, the foods they eat, and their connections to the livelihoods and cultures that depend on these species. As I worked towards this goal for the previous five years, my research program has established a number of correlative field studies to create a baseline of ecological knowledge. Over the next five years, I will build on this baseline to integrate field-based, experimental study designs within an adaptive, process-based restoration practice. Working with governments, non-government organizations, and Indigenous communities, my short-term objectives will quantify ecological causation, mechanism, and consequences of restoration interventions. Specifically, I will lead research questions addressing the following objectives: (1) The restorative effects of wild, prescribed, and cultural fires on wildlife; (2) Wildlife demography and space use during recovery; (3) Ecosystem effects of large carnivore recovery.


The impacts of people on nature have never been more severe than they are today, with many species in decline across the globe, toxic pollutants in the water and air, novel zoonotic diseases spreading among people and wildlife populations, invasive species swamping native biodiversity, and overconsumption and illegal trade of rare and endangered species. The last several decades of conservation actions have emphasized protected areas, environmental regulations and treaties, and other means to reduce the impacts of people on biodiversity. While reducing the negative impacts of people on nature is important, there is an urgent need to strengthen restoration, i.e., the human-assisted recovery of biodiversity and the ecosystem services that people depend upon. To meet this need, the science, policies, and practices of restoration ecology have reached a new level of importance – highlighted by the resolution 73/284 of the United Nations General Assembly to proclaim 2021-2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

To support the assisted recovery of ecosystems, my research program integrates the fields of fundamental consumer-resource ecology, movement ecology, and human-wildlife interactions. To formalize the integration of these fields, I recently introduced the concept of process-based restoration. At least three interrelated themes characterize process-based restoration: (1) the recovery of indirect and consumptive interactions between consumers and their resources; (2) selective connectivity to titrate desired ecological flows and hinder problematic ones; and (3) a role for culturally-centered and sustained interactions between people, natural disturbances, and harvest.

Consumer-resource ecology – To help meet the call to integrate trophic ecology and restoration, as well as to develop a better understanding of large mammal community ecology, my research commonly uses field experiments and broad-scale mensurative studies. This work occurs in such disparate systems as critically endangered hirola in northern Kenya and endangered woodland caribou in the boreal forests and mountains of Canada. In this theme of process-based restoration, we have uncovered the roles of predation on plant-herbivore dynamics in African savannas, assessed trait-mediated interactions between predators and prey, discovered novel links between landscape change and zoochory, and conducted metanalyses to understand the potential reciprocity of carnivore restoration and extirpation. Current work on consumer-resource ecology involves mule deer, Stone’s sheep, cougars, caribou/wolves, bison/sheep, and caribou.

Selective connectivity – Connectivity science underpins restoration through efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of people on animal movement. My recent work on connectivity science includes the way urbanization, roads, and habitat disturbance affect species movements at global scales, and within specific regions of Asia, Europe, and western Canada. Connectivity is tied to land use decision making, such that the integration of ecology and policy can be impactful. To support this science-policy interface, we are helping to push connectivity science into new dimensions, such as the conservation of airspace habitat, the role of movement ecology in conservation, and integrated social-ecological networks. We have uncovered ways that both individual species and demographic classes within a population can interact distinctly with restoration efforts like highway mitigation structures. In addition to this conservation-oriented work, our work in connectivity also includes more fundamental science in quantifying animal home ranges, migration patterns and post-translocation movements. Recent work on connectivity science includes science related to the spread of disease, animal migration, and connectivity theory.

Sustainable human-wildlife interactions – Understanding the ecology of human-wildlife interactions is important for resolving conflicts and better informing coexistence policies. Ideally, this ecological understanding will be closely linked to Indigenous Ways of Knowing and social science. Current and former students working on human-wildlife interactions include work on coastal wolf conflicts, bear-human interactions, mountain goat-helicopter interactions, caribou-snowmobiles, and hunter harvest.

These three themes are integrated in a number of important dimensions. For example, connectivity in the wrong places or amounts can lead to conflict or the spread of invasive species and diseases that disrupt consumer-resource interactions. Critically, my research program works closely with people most affected by loss of biodiversity and so these people must be central to the solutions for restoration. In this way, my work on Indigenous-led conservation and the weaving of Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge in conservation helps to bring more wholistic and diverse perspectives into the solution space of ecosystem restoration and sustainable human-wildlife interactions.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Google Scholar

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Member of the Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services , Kelowna, BC​
Faculty adviser for the UBC-O Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Kelowna, BC
Member of the Biodiversity Research Center, Vancouver, BC


Restoring nature’s broken links to help wildlife


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