Picture of Philip Dunstan McLoughlin

Philip Dunstan McLoughlin B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Faculty Member in Biology

CSRB 310.5

Research Area(s)

  • Ecology and evolution of the Sable Island horse, the individual-based study of a wild vertebrate that lives free from predation, interspecific competition, and human interference
  • How horses may be impacting vegetation and biodiversity, including endangered species like Roseate Terns
  • Individual- and matrix-based models of populations with applications to theory, conservation, and management
  • Population dynamics and critical habitat of woodland caribou living in the Boreal Shield region of Saskatchewan
  • Disturbance impacts on caribou habitat and development of geospatial data on vegetation and disturbance for modelling wildlife-habitat relationships
  • Inter-specific linkspresented by grey seal and seabird inputs ofnitrogen into the terrestrial system to affectplant diversity, forage, and subsequently horse space-use and demography


Here are a few selected papers (please see the lab website at: http://mcloughlinlab.ca/lab/ for a complete list):

McLoughlin, P.D., Morris, D.W., Fortin, D., Vander Wal, E., and Contasti, A.L. 2010. Considering ecological dynamics in resource selection functions. Journal of Animal Ecology 79: 4–12.

Lucas, Z., McLoughlin, P.D., Coltman, D.W., and Barber, S. 2009. Multi-scale analysis reveals restricted gene flow and a linear gradient in heterozygosity for an island population of feral horses. Canadian Journal of Zoology 87: 310–316.

McLoughlin, P.D., Coulson, T., and Clutton-Brock, T. 2008. Cross-generational effects of habitat and density on life history in red deer. Ecology 89: 3317–3326.

McLoughlin, P.D., Gaillard, J.-M., Boyce, M., Bonenfant, C., Messier, F., Duncan, P., Delorme, D., Van Moorter, B., Saïd, S., and Klein, F. 2007. Lifetime reproductive success and composition of the home range in a large herbivore. Ecology 88: 3192–3201.

McLoughlin, P.D., Boyce, M.S., Coulson, T., and Clutton-Brock, T. 2006. Lifetime reproductive success and density-dependent, multi-variable resource selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 273: 1449–1454.


animal ecology behaviour biodiversity caribou evolution habitat selection horse mammals morphology natural history natural selection population-level ecological genetics

  I am a broadly trained quantitative ecologist working on problems of pure and applied animal ecology.  My research is field-based and largely empirical.  I would consider myself a ‘population ecologist’, although my program touches on several aspects of ecology and evolution.  For example, in trying to understand the basis of population dynamics for the wild horses of Sable Island (one of my principal field sites), I am now considering inter-specific links presented by grey seal and seabird inputs of nitrogen into the terrestrial system to affect plant diversity, forage, and subsequently horse space-use and demography; island plant community ecology; and how horses may be impacting vegetation and biodiversity, including endangered species like Roseate Terns.  I have always been interested in habitat selection, especially how individual performance (e.g., survival and reproduction) can be influenced by an animal’s access to habitat resources and associated resource covariates, and demonstrating how these relationships might be modified by ecological processes (e.g., competition, predation, ecological succession, and cross-generational effects).  The effects of density on individuals to affect population-level processes is particularly fascinating to me: e.g., effects of population density on interaction rates between individuals, which may influence the spread of wildlife disease; or density-dependent habitat selection.  By examining individual responses (be it behaviour or morphology) to population-level phenomena like overcrowding or predation we may be able to identify opportunties for natural selection.  My interests further include individual- and matrix-based models of populations with applications to theory, conservation, and management; scaling and sampling questions in ecology; population-level ecological genetics; and of course natural history.  My questions have been primarily directed at the ecology of European and North American mammals and birds, including populations of red deer, roe deer, caribou, wolves, grizzly bears, polar bears, seals, turkey vultures, and prairie hawks (Swainson’s and ferruginous hawks).