Research project

White spruce dieback in plantations: Statistical portrait and causes


(2 master's degree projects available)
White spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) is one of the three most widely used softwood species for reforestation in Quebec, and is a preferred species for management and wood production in coniferous and mixed boreal forests, due to its productivity, greater resistance to pests, longevity and high wood quality.

Unfortunately, the first observations of white spruce dieback, manifested in particular by foliage chlorosis, were reported in the late 1990s in stands reforested with this species, and field observations suggest that this phenomenon seems to have intensified since then. Hypotheses to explain this deficiency include: an accumulation of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on affected sites, past history of forest management practices, and climate change.

Given the strategic, economic and ecological importance of white spruce, existing observations of dieback, and the current lack of a detailed understanding of the extent and causes of dieback, these two master's degree projects aim to analyze the links between edaphic, silvicultural, climatic and nutritional conditions and the dieback of white spruce used for reforestation.

Master's Project 1: Develop a statistical portrait, at the landscape scale, of the occurrence (presence/absence) and intensity (proportion of stems affected and degree of dieback) of white spruce dieback as manifested by foliage chlorosis in reforested sites.

Master's Project 2: Study, on a site-by-site basis, the effect of climatic and nutritional conditions on the occurrence and intensity of white spruce dieback as manifested by foliage chlorosis in reforested sites.

Research Field

- Forest ecology
- Forest nutrition
- Plantation silviculture
- Forest soils
- Climate change

Research Supervisor

Evelyne Thiffault

Research Environment

Renewable Materials Research Centre - Department of wood and forest sciences

E. Thiffault's team (Team Carbone) carries out research activities related to forestry under a changing climate at the Renewable Materials Research Centre, whose mission is to develop responsible use of forest resources, taking into account environmental and economic constraints. The team is part of Université Laval's Department of Wood and Forest Sciences, a training and research environment dedicated to improving our knowledge of the forest environment.
Most of the projects of the E. Thiffault team are in partnership with stakeholders and communities committed to the fight against climate change. Come and make a difference with us!
To discover Team Carbone, visit our Facebook page:

Web Site

Financial Aid Available by Program of Study

Master's Degree in Forestry Science with thesis

Program description

Financial Aid Available*

Financial Aid Related to Research Project

$20000 per year for 2 years.

All expenses related to field and laboratory work, specialized training, equipment, etc. are covered. Funds are also available for participation in conferences and symposia to present research results.

Program-Specific Financial Aid

Graduate Studies Awards

Milestone Amount
Initial thesis submission OR fast-tracking to a doctorate by the end of the 5th semester
Total $1,000

Université Laval: Student Financial Aid

Sources de financement Montant
Leadership and Comittment Scholarship (Canadians & permanent residents) $10,000
Citizens of the World Scholarship (International students) $20,000
Mobility Grant for Out-of-Province Internships or Research Visits (in French)
$1,000 to $2,000
Graduate Scholarships from Granting Agencies
$17,500 to $40,000
Online Directory of Graduate Scholarships (in French)
$500 to $50,000

* Amounts shown represent maximum financial aid available. Certain conditions apply. Subject to change without prior notice. For further information, contact sponsoring organizations directly.

Desired Profile

- Agroforestry
- Biochemistry
- Biology
- Geography
- Natural and landscaped environment
- Forest Management and Environment

Requirements and Conditions

- Interest/ability to carry out work in forest, including field visits over several days

Required Documentation

- Cover letter
- Curriculum vitæ
- Student transcript

Application Deadline

March 1, 2024

Find Out More

Evelyne Thiffault
Professeure agrégée
Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt