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David Hik

Adjunct Professor


Biological Sciences

About Me


1994 Ph.D. University of British Columbia (Zoology)

1988 M.Sc. University of Toronto (Botany)

1986 B.Sc. (Hons) Queen's University, Kingston (Biology)


2005 - present  Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

2014 - 2016 Visiting Guest Professor, Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai, China

2012 - 2015 Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

2011 - 2012 Director (Acting), Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta 

2002 - 2012 Canada Research Chair in Northern Ecology, University of Alberta 

2004 – 2009 Executive Director, Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) Secretariat

1999 - 2004 Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta 

1994 - 1998 Assistant Professor, Life Sciences (Botany), University of Toronto at Scarborough

1994  Post-Doctoral Fellow (NSERC), Division of Wildlife & Ecology, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia 


2016  Polar Medal (Canada)

2015  Erebus Medal, Royal Canadian Geographical Society

2015  Certificate of Appreciation, International Arctic Science Committee

2014  Teaching Honour Roll, Faculty of Science, University of Alberta

2013  Martin Bergmann Medal for Excellence in Arctic Leadership and Science, Royal Canadian Geographical Society

2012  Fellow, Royal Canadian Geographical Society 

2010  Gold Medal, Royal Canadian Geographical Society (co-recipient - IPY National Committee)

2002  Patricia Roberts-Pichette Award, Environmental Monitoring & Assessment Network, Environment Canada



The major focus of my research is the investigation of the structure and dynamics of plant and animal populations and their interactions, in the context of landscape and climatic change and variability, in mountain, northern and arid environments. Through a variety of long-term and/or large-scale observations and experimental studies of ecological processes, this work has contributed to the development of strategies for conserving biodiversity, maintaining and restoring disturbed ecosystems, and understanding the consequences of climate change. 

My lab is leading a number of collaborative research efforts including the Herbivory Network (  In Yukon, I am currently developing a new regional mountain watershed research program in collaboration with academic, government and First Nations partners; in Alberta we are establishing a multi-agency study of the resilience of bighorn sheep and their alpine habitats in the Rocky Mountains; and in partnership with Alpine Club of Canada, we are establishing a research and observing program to look at rates and consequences of rapid habitat change above tree-line. Internationally, I maintain a number of collaborative research and teaching initiatives with colleagues in Iceland, Austria & Siberia.
A second area of inquiry is focused on the science-policy interface, knowledge translation and the resilience of social-environmental systems in northern and mountain environments.

Finally, I am pushing for a new initiative to prepare a proposal for a Networks of Centers of Excellence focused on Canadian mountain environments, and the development of an interdisciplinary Canadian Mountain Network (



Introduction to the Mountain World (INTD 280) – since 2014

Mountain Backcountry Field Skills (INTD 282) – since 2014

‘Mountains 101’, a 12 lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC– – launched January 2017 (over 15,000 students)

Plant-Animal Interactions (BIOL 433) – alternate years since 2011

Seminar in Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 631)