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Shelley Alexander

  • Professor


Shelley Alexander is an international canid specialist and the founder of the Canid Conservation Science Lab (  She has conducted field-based and geospatial (GIS, Remote Sensing, statistics) analysis of large carnivore ecology, specializing in wolves and coyotes, and has studied human-wildlife conflict in the Calgary region since 1990.  She is also an expert wildlife tracker, an established road ecologist, and a specialist in non-invasive approaches to wildlife monitoring. Since 2001, she has worked as a faculty member for the Department of Geography, University of Calgary. In 2005, Shelley launched the Calgary Coyote Project, studying regional urban and rural coyote ecology and human-coyote conflicts across Canada. During that time she spearheaded an educational website and an on-line citizen science mapping tool, Living with Coyotes, which was the first of its kind developed for coyotes in Canada and was designed to involve Calgarians in tracking observations of coyotes to improve co-existence. In 2014, she founded the Foothills Coyote Initiative, which is funded by SSHRC, encompases Calgary and the foothills parkland natural region surrounding the city, and seeks to understand human-coyote relationships by deploying mixed analytical methods (i.e. qualitative and quantitative approaches). Shelley has also been a Principal Investigator and/or Collaborator on several other projects since 2001, including: The Raincoast Wolf Project, the Swift Fox Critical Habitat Project, the Calakmul Road Effects Project in Yucatan, MX and most recently she joined forces with Painted Dog Trust, Zimbabwe integrating geospatial analysis for the conservation of the endangered Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Conservation Biology North American Section and the Science Advisory Board for Project Coyote (USA). Shelley is also highly engaged mobilizing science to community, regularly reporting research results through weekend/evening nature hikes, lectures to community groups and media.


Recent Publications

Papers in Refereed Journals

1.        Watts, A., V.M. Lukasik, and S.M. Alexander. 2015. “Urbanization, grassland, and diet influence coyote (Canis latrans) parasitism structure.” EcoHealth  DOI: 10.1007/s10393-015-1040-5

2.        van Rheenen, S., T.W.J. Watson, S.M. Alexander, and M.D. Hill. 2015. “An analysis of spatial clustering of stroke in Alberta, Canada, using GIS.” The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 16:1-11.

3.        Alexander, S.M. and M.S. Quinn. 2012. “Portrayal of interactions between humans and coyotes (Canis latrans): Content analysis of Canadian print media (1998-2010).” Cities and the Environment (CATE) - Special Topic Issue: Urban Predators 4(11): Article 9. 

4.        Lukasik, V.M. and S.M. Alexander. 2012. “Spatial and temporal variation of coyote (Canis latrans) diet in Calgary, Alberta.” Cities and the Environment (CATE). Special Topic Issue: Urban Predators 4(11): Article 8. 

5.        Watts, A. and S.M. Alexander. 2012. “Community variation of gastrointestinal parasitesfound in urban and rural coyotes (Canis latrans).” Cities and the Environment (CATE) - Special Topic Issue: Urban Predators 4(11): Article 11.

6.        Alexander, S.M. and M.S. Quinn. 2011.” Coyote (Canis latrans) interactions with humans and pets reported in the Canadian print media (1995–2010).” Human Dimensions of Wildlife 16:345-359.

7.        Quinn, M.S, S.M. Alexander, N. Heck, and G. Chernoff. 2011. “Bird collision hotspots on transmission power lines in Alberta: an expert-based Geographic Information System (GIS) approach.” Environmental Informatics 18(1):12-21.

8.        Lukasik, V. and S.M. Alexander. 2011. “Human-coyote interactions in Calgary, Alberta.” Human Dimensions of Wildlife 16(2):114-127.

9.        Kang, H. and S.M. Alexander. 2009. “Relative accuracy of spatial predictive models for lynx (Lynx Canadensis) derived using logistic regression-AIC, multiple criteria evaluation and Bayesian approaches.” Current Zoology 55(1): 28-40.

10.     Alexander, S.M. 2008. “Snow-tracking and GIS: using multiple species-environment models to determine optimal wildlife crossing sites and evaluate highway mitigation plans on the Trans-Canada highway.” Canadian Geographer 52(2): 169-187.

11.     Etherington, T.R. and S.M. Alexander. 2008. “Identifying radio-telemetry sampling bias using Geographic Information System viewsheds.”Journal of Wildlife Management 72(4):1043-1046.

12.     Alexander, S. M., T.B. Logan, and P.C. Paquet. 2006. “Spatio-temporal co-occurrence of cougars (Felis concolor), wolves (Canis lupus) and their prey during winter: a comparison of two analytical methods.” Journal of Biogeography 33:2001-2012.

13.     Alexander, S.M. and D. Duro. 2006. “Habitat fragmentation and water quality in the Candelaria Watershed, Mexico.” Jaina en linea Volume especial: 34-36.

14.     Alexander, S. M., P.C. Paquet, T.B. Logan, and D.J. Saher. 2005. “Snow-tracking versus radiotelemetry for predicting wolf–environment relationships in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(4):1-9.

15.     Alexander, S. M., N.M. Waters, and P.C. Paquet. 2005. “Traffic volume and highway permeability for a mammalian community in the Canadian Rocky Mountains,” Canadian Geographer 49(4):321-331.

16.     Paquet, P.C. and S.M. Alexander. 2005. “Banff National Park: how helpful is highway mitigation.” Wild Earth Fall/Winter: 70-71.

17.     Wilkie, K.J., M.E. Tyler, and S.M. Alexander. 2003. “Conserving Habitat and Biodiversity in Urban Landscapes.” Environmental Informatics Archives 1:190-196.

18.     Alexander, S.M. and N.M. Waters. 2000. “The effects of transportation corridors on wildlife: a case study of Banff National Park.” Transportation Research, Part C: Emerging Technologies 8(2000):307-320.

Chapters in refereed books 

1.     M.S. Quinn, Alexander, S.M. S.A. Kennett, B. Stelfox, and M.E. Tyler. 2016.Consequence and management of Alberta’s energy infrastructure.” In L. Adkin, ed, Political Ecology in Alberta.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

2.     Alexander, S.M.  2015. “Carnivore conflict, management, and conservation GIS in Canada.” In B. Mitchell, ed., Resources and Environmental Management in Canada. Ontario: Oxford University Press, 293-317.

3.     Blue, G. and S.M. Alexander.  2015. “Coyotes in the city: gastro-ethical encounters in a more-than-human world.” In R. Collard and K. Gillespie, eds, Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World. New York: Routledge, 149-163.

4.     Alexander, S. M. and N.M. Waters. 2014. “Road Ecology” In M. Garret, and J. G. Golson, eds, The Encyclopedia of Transportation: Social Science and Policy. Thousand Oaks, CA. SAGE Publications Inc. 1162-1165.

5.     Alexander, S.M. 2012. “Coexisting with coyotes in Canada: lessons from the Calgary coyote project.” In Udo Gansloßer, ed, Hund, Wolf & Co. Germany: Filander Verlag, 53-70.

6.     Paquet, P.C., S.M. Alexander, and S. Donelon.  2010. ”Influence of anthropogenically modified snow conditions on movements and predatory behaviour of gray wolves.” In M. Musiani, L. Boitani, and P.C. Paquet, eds, The World of Wolves and People: New Perspectives on Ecology, Behavior and Management. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.157-173.

7.     Quinn, M.S., and S.M. Alexander. 2007. “Information technology and the protection of biodiversity in protected areas.” In K. Hanna, D. Clark, and S. Slocombe, eds, Transforming Parks: Protected Areas Policy and Governance in a Changing World. New York: Taylor & Francis Books Ltd. 62-84.

8.     Alexander, S.M., M.S.M. Pavelka, and N.H. Bywater. 2006. “Quantifying fragmentation of black howler (Alouatta pigra) habitat after hurricane Iris (2001), Southern Belize.”  In A. Estrada, P. Garber, M. Pavelka, and L. Luecke, eds, New Perspectives in the Study of Mesoamerican Primates: Distribution, Ecology, Behavior and Conservation. New York: Kluwer Academic Press, 539-559.

9.     Paquet, P.C., S.M. Alexander, P.L. Swan, and C.T. Darimont. 2006.The influence of natural landscape fragmentation and resource availability on connectivity and distribution of marine gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations on Central Coast, BC.” In K. Crooks and M.A. Sanjayan, eds, Connectivity Conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 130-156.

10.  Benitez, J.A. and S.M. Alexander. 2006. “A GIS analysis of watershed change in the Candelaria River Basin, Mexico.” In Highlighting the impacts of North-South research collaboration among Canadian and southern higher education partners. Ottawa: The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada,107-116.

11.  Alexander, S.M., N.M. Waters, and P.C. Paquet. 2004. “A probability-based GIS model for identifying focal species linkage zones across highways in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.” In   G. Clarke and J. Stillwell, eds, Applied GIS and Spatial Modelling. UK: University of Leeds, 233-255.

12.  Alexander, S.M. and N.M. Waters. 2000. “GIS-T and the effects of highway transportation corridors on wildlife.”  In J.C. Thill, ed, GIS and Environmental Modelling. UK: Elsevier Science Ltd, 307-320.

Technical Reports

1.     Quinn, M.S. and S.M. Alexander. 2011. “Carnivores and communities in the Waterton Biosphere Reserve.” Prepared for the Chinook Land Users Association, the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association, and Miistakis Institute for the Rockies.  32p.

2.     Moehrenschlager, A., S.M. Alexander, and T. Brichieri-Colombi. 2007. “Habitat suitability and population viability analysis for reintroduced swift foxes in Canada and Northern Montana.” Centre for Conservation Research Report No. 2.  Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 30p.

3.     Kennett, S., S.M. Alexander, D.L. Duke, M.M.P. Ross, M.S. Quinn, B. Stelfox, M.E. Tyler, and N. Vlavianos. 2006. “Managing Alberta energies futures at the landscape scale.”  Institute for Sustainable Economy, Energy and Environment, University of Calgary, Alberta. 101 p.

4.     Alexander, S.M. and J.A. Gailus. 2005. “A GIS based approach to restoring connectivity across the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park.” Report for Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, Canmore, Alberta. 24p.

5.     Alexander, S.M., D.L. Duke, and P.C. Paquet. 2002. “Wildlife movement corridors around the mountain town of Canmore, Alberta.” Research report funded by Wilburforce Science Initiative.  51p.

6.     Noss, R.F., C. Carrol, P.C. Paquet, and S.M. Alexander. 2001. “A conservation biology primer for the BC Coast, Canada.” Sierra Club, Canada.

7.     Alexander, S.M. 1994a. “An assessment of snow-compaction effects on sub-nivean habitat and small mammals in the Visitor Centre meadow, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP).” Report compiled for Alberta Environmental Protection, Kananaskis West District (KWD), Environmental Programs.

8.     Alexander, S.M. 1994b. “An ecological review of the PLPP boundary and Kananaksis Country zoning system in relation to Special Places 2000.”  Report compiled for Alberta Environmental Protection, KWD, Environmental Programs.

9.     Alexander, S.M., R. Wedgewood, and P.C. Paquet. 1992. “Background report for the carnivore conservation strategy workshop, organized by S. Alexander and P. Paquet for World Wildlife Fund.  Banff, AB.

Current and Recent Research

PROJECT 1) Foothills Coyote Initiative, Alberta 

The Foothills Coyote Initiative is a new project that has arisen from the Calgary Coyote Project (2005-2013), which was the first formal ecological and human-dimensions project on urban coyotes in Canada.  We have and continue to examine multiple aspects of urban and sub-urban/rural coyote ecology and human-coyote conflict. Ecological aspects have been focued on Calgary and the immediate foothills parkland regions around the city, while conflict has been investigated within Calgary across Canada. Rapid urban expansion into the rural fringe of Calgary to the Rocky Mountain front is presenting situations where people, their pets, livestock and coyotes regularly interact.  Understanding the role that humans, and their pets play in the development of conflict will be integral to designing this human-dominated ecosystem in a way that fosters coexistence. 

Between 2005-2013 the Calgary Coyote Project published several key articles (see recent publications) including: the spatial and temporal aspects of coyote diet across the City of Calgary, and the rural areas surrounding Calgary.  In addition, we completed studies of: the occurrence/prevalence of parasites in both urban and rural coyote populations was completed, human-coyote conflict reported by Calgarians to the 311 Coyote Hotline, and the spatio-temporal patterns of reported conflict. Dr. Alexander conducted a content analysis of newspaper articles about coyote incidents across Canada between 1998-2012, which yielded publications about the frequency, causes and outcomes of coyote-human and coyote-pet events in Canada. Other more recent publications have extended into the realm of critical animal geographies.

Dr. Alexander spearheaded the educational website and an on-line citizen science mapping tool, Living with Coyotes, which was designed to involve Calgarians in tracking observations of coyotes. Data from this project (2009-2013) are currently being analyzed, and the mapping tool has been re-developed for deployment in the Foothills Coyote Inititaive.

The Foothills Coyote Inititaive (2014--) explores human-coyote interactions and conflicts in the rural, agricultural and transitional areas surrounding the City of Calgary.  With recent funding from SSHRC secured, we will launch our attitudes and values research in 2015/2016 throughout the Foothills Parkland region.  We have and will continue to mobilize our research and results at the National and International scale, by regularly engaging in outreach through media, community groups, management agencies and schools, and our science advisory roles. 

PROJECT 2) Painted  Dog Research, Zimbabwe

Painted dogs (Lycaon pictus) are one of the most threatened carnivores in the world, with less than 5000 living in the wild. The species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN. This collaborative project began in 2013 and employs GIS  in the analysis of habitat preferences, home range distribution, mortality hot spots, linkage zones and road effects for Painted Dogs.   This project has a special focus on Hwange National Park and results are to be extrapolated to the KAZA Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, which is the largest protected area of its' kind in Africa. Our project will be a collaborative initiative with with Dr. Greg Rasmussen (Oxford University and Painted Dog Conservation), who has led the longest running and most comprehensive painted dog research project in Africa.  A key aim of this reserach is also to build local capacity in GIS, RS, and GPS, by employing or engaging citizens and regional scientists in the research program and offering training sessions in applied spatial data technologies.

Curriculum Vitae



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