Team Members

Robert F. Foster

363 Van Horne Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada, P7A 3G3
ph/fax (807) 346-4950
cell 621-9351


D. Phil. Zoology(1993) University of Oxford, Oxford, England
H.B.Sc. Biology(1989) Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario


Rob is co-founder and principal of Northern Bioscience, an ecological consulting firm offering professional consulting services supporting ecosystem management, planning, and research. Dr. Foster has over 15 years of research and work experience in northern Ontario on a variety of projects including boreal forest ecology, wildlife habitat, and fisheries. Rob has strong field inventory skills for small mammals, songbirds, vascular plants, and other taxa, having conducted over life science inventories in boreal environments. He has undertaken training with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on conducting screening level EA's and has helped conducted environmental assessments or impact statements for a variety development projects. Rob also has strong analytical and GIS skills, and played a lead role in the analysis and development of the ecosite and wetland ecosystem classifications for northwestern Ontario.

Major Scholarships and Awards

Rhodes Scholar
Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada 1967 Scholarship

Consulting Experience

Principal, Northern Bioscience
1996 - present

Carried out over 100 projects for government, industry, First Nations, and non-government organizations in Canada and the United States. Main areas of focus (and sample projects) have included:

Environmental Assessment

  • Led terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic components for environmental assessment for hydropower development on the Namewaminikan River (2006)
  • Conducted small fish assessment for Environmental Effects Monitoring for Lac des Iles Mine (2006)
  • Prepared wetland and fisheries component of EIS for OMNR Onion Lake Dam removal EA (2005)
  • Assessed fisheries impacts for Municipal Class EA for Lakeshore Drive resurfacing (2005)
  • Conducted assessment of potential boat launch sites on Black Bay (2003)
  • Conducted pre-operations surveys for rare plants along gas pipeline right of way (2001)
  • Prepared environment impact statement for development on Cloud Bay, Lake Superior (2000-2001)
  • Conducted environment impact statement for Thunder Bay Regional Hospital site (1999)

Wildlife Habitat

  • Developed spatial predictive model for peregrine falcon nesting habitat in Ontario (2003-2006)
  • Analysed marten habitat availability on the Lakehead Forest based on remote-sensed data and trapper surveys (2000)
  • Reviewed the Status of the Habitat in the Lake Superior Basin for the Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP)(2002, 2003)
  • Conducted mark-recapture studies of small mammals to examine impact of herbicides and vegetation management on small mammals (1996, 1997, 2003)
  • Identified moose aquatic feeding areas (MAFAs) from aerial photographs for Black Sturgeon Forest (2003).
  • Revised the Aulneau Peninsula Enhanced Management Area wildlife management plan (2000) and undertook pre-harvest values surveys (2003).

Biological Inventory And Monitoring

  • Completed detailed life science inventories for 15 parks and conservation reserves in Northwestern Ontario (2000-2004)
  • Completed reconnaissance level earth and life science reconnaissance-level surveys for 40 parks and conservation reserves in northwestern Ontario (2001-2003)
  • Conducted life science inventory of Rainy Lake area for Rainy Lake Conservancy
  • Conducted rare and invasive plant surveys for Voyageurs National Park (MN)(2002-2004), Lake Nipigon area (2004), and Atikokan (1997)
  • Conducted herpetofaunal surveys Lake Nipigon area (2004).
  • Conduct prairie vegetation, rare plant and invertebrate monitoring at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung (Manitou Mounds)(2001, 2004) for Rainy River First Nation.
  • Conducted bird migration monitoring at the proposed Lake of the Woods Sand Spit Archipelago Important Bird Area (IBA)


  • Analysed potential fisheries impacts of Onion Lake dam removal, including fall-walleye index netting, electro-fishing, and beach-seining (2005)
  • Assessed hundreds of water crossings for fish habitat impacts during forest audits (1999-2005)
  • Co-author of Black Bay walleye rehabilitation plan (2001)
  • Co-author of fisheries management plan for Vermilions Lake system (2000-2001)
  • Analysed Lac Seul muskellunge data and developed management recommendations (1999)
  • Compiled smallmouth bass and northern pike data (1996-1998)

Forest Auditing

  • Served as biologist on five Independent Forest Audits in Ontario (1999-2006)
  • Served as ecologist on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification audit and annual compliance audit using Boreal and draft Great Lakes St. Lawrence standards for two Ontario SFLs (2004, 2006)
  • Field-tested draft Boreal Standards for Forest Stewardship Council of Canada (2003)

Forest Resource Management and Science

  • Collected field data and performed analysis of vegetation management techniques for field trials near Sioux Lookout, Atikokan, Thunder Bay, and Espanola.
  • Conducted pre-harvest surveys for rare plants in Fort Frances MNR District (2000)
  • Conducted FEC data analysis on young and under-represented forest stands and V-types and undertook field verification of ecosites (1996, 2000)
  • Prepared technical report on use of grazing animals for forest vegetation management (1997)

Wetland Evaluation, Inventory, and Monitoring

  • Conducted wetland inventories in northwestern Ontario (1997-2004)
  • Conducting 5-year wetland inventory and monitoring of effects of water level management on Rainy Lake basin (2001-2005)
  • Conducted analysis and field verification of peatlands in Ignace area to develop preliminary wetland evaluation scores (2003-2004)
  • Collected field data for 100 wetland ecosystem classification plots in northeastern Ontario (1997)

Protected Areas Management and Conservation

  • Helped develop ecological component for OMNR's Great Lakes Heritage Coast Strategy (2003)
  • Conducted gap, human use, and trends analyses; undertook field inventory; and provided scientific and GIS support to Parks Canada for proposed National Marine Conservation Area on Lake Superior (1997-ongoing)
  • Conducted technical and scientific reviews of Important Bird Area (IBA) community conservation plans from across Canada.
  • Prepared provincial recovery strategy for small-flowered lipocarpha (Lipocarpha micrantha) (2003)
  • Prepared national recovery strategy for small-flowered lipocarpha (Symphytotrichum sericeum) (2004)

Recreation Development

  • Provided ecological input and GIS support for City of Dryden Trail Enhancement and Development Project (2003), Rushing River / Eagle-Dogtooth Trail Strategy (2003), and Atikokan Recreation Corridor Master Plan (2004).

Other Professional Experience

Landscape classification biologist
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 1995-1996

  • conducted data synthesis and analysis of wetland vegetation and environmental data
  • assisted with development of ecosite and wetland ecosystem classifications, including field testing of keys
  • assisted in writing/editing of ecosite, wetland classification and wetland plant field guides

Small mammal biologist
Ontario Forest Research Institute, 1995

  • coordinated field research on the effects of vegetation management techniques (herbicide applications, brushsaws, etc.) on small mammal population dynamics
  • was responsible for field logistics, data quality and supervision of eight-person field crew
  • conducted small mammal trapping, identification, handling and tagging

Natural heritage biologist
Nature Conservancy of Canada, 1995

  • collected data from government, academic and other sources on the status and distribution of rare, threatened and endangered plants, animals and communities in NW Ontario
  • compiled digital catalogue of sources for use by the Natural Heritage Information Centre

Ecological consultant
Canadian Forest Service, 1994 1995

  • conducted multivariate analyses of forest ecosystem classification (FEC) plot data to compare fire origin and anthropogenic stands of varying ages and species composition
  • compiled silvicultural history records for FEC plots and conducted field plot locating.

Field crew leader
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 1994

  • identified and estimated percent cover of vascular and non-vascular plant species in various physiognomic strata on sample plots; collected other vegetation data
  • dug soil pits, identified horizons by texture, structure, colour etc., and described site-specific pedology and characteristics
  • collected basic mensurational data including tree heights, diameters and ages

Doctoral student
University of Oxford, 1989-1993

  • conducted ecosystem-based research in the Serengeti of Tanzania on the role of dung beetles and termites in nutrient cycling
  • collected ecological data on vegetation, soils, weather, insect and ungulate populations
  • established and maintained research camp in remote location over 2 1/2-year period
  • analysed data with uni- and multivariate statistics

Interpretive naturalist
Pukaskwa National Park, 1989

  • researched and presented educational programs and guided hikes on natural history
  • coordinated the preparation and distribution of all park programming promotion
  • contributed to the park entomological and photographic collections

Research assistant
Biology Department, Lakehead University, May-Aug. 1987-1988

  • worked on research project examining the effect of acid rain on trembling aspen genetics; acquired root cuttings, propagated seedlings, and conducted electrophoretic analyses
  • assisted with field work for jack pine and larch genetics projects, including site location and field reconnaissance, soil sampling and tissue collection
  • carried out tiger beetle (Cicindela spp.) genetics project, including specimen collection, electrophoretic analysis, data analysis and summary
  • dissected tropical carabid beetles and derived preliminary phylogenetic relationships

Timber cruiser
Borealis Forestry Consultants, 198.

  • timber cruised as part of a two-person forest resource inventory crew
  • duties included tree identification and basic mensuration, navigation, map-reading, aerial photo interpretation, use of small boats and outboard motors

Related Activities

  • member of the Ecological Society of America, Thunder Bay Field Naturalists (TBFN)
  • participant in OMNR/Long Point Bird Observatory Owl Monitoring Project, Forest Bird Monitoring Program, Ontario Bird Atlas
  • contributor to Ontario Odonate Atlas and Ontario Herpetological Survey

Back to Team Members

Northern Bioscience
(807) 346-4950 Rob Foster • (807) 344-7213 Al Harris