Chmura Lab

  Lab Members
    Adjunct Faculty
      Elisabeth Levac
      Florin Pendea
      Matthew Peros

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Researchers
& Assistants




Student Opportunities


Other Activities







Dr. Gail L. Chmura


Associate Professor
Department of Geography
Centre for Climate and Global Change Research
McGill University
Telphone: (514) 398-4958
Fax: (514) 398-7437

The Best Prophet of the Future is the Past


Research Interests

Estuaries and coastal waters (where the river meets the sea)
My students and I study estuarine waters and the wetlands that surround them.  We apply techniques of geology in combination with modern and paleo-ecology to answer a variety of questions concerning the function of estuaries and their response to climatic and anthropogenic influences.  A major focus of our research is the value of salt marshes and mangroves as carbon sinks. Student research projects may be field, lab, or historically based.  Many students integrate all three approaches into their research.

Our main foci are:

  • human-environment interactions
  • development of indicators to provide environmental histories in wetland sediments
  • examination of how estuaries (particularly salt marshes) interact with processes of climate change and sea level rise
  • determination of recovery trajectories for dyked salt marshes on the Bay of Fundy
  • changes in sea surface temperatures with greenhouse warming and the impact on biogeography of coastal organisms
    See web pages on this project

Research Products and Publications:

Lessons Learned from Recovering Marshes: the Hydrological network in Abandoned Dykelands – a report prepared for the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BoFEP) and Gulf of Maine Council.

More on our research can be found in web pages and abstracts linked to student researchers listed below.

(to top)

Current Students
  • Jan Wollenberg, MSc.  Climate feedbacks of salt marsh restoration. Holds NSERC fellowship.
  • Shayne Levoy, MSc.  Impacts of eutrophication on salt marshes. Holds NSERC fellowship.
  • Sylvie Normand, MSc.  Salt marsh ecology
  • Lee vanArdenne, MSc. Variability in salt marsh carbon stocks with geomorphology and drainage. Holds NSERC fellowship.
  • Anna AgostaG’Meiner, MSc. Late Holocene paleoenvironmental change in Cuba. Holds research award from AASP.  (co-supervised with M. Peros, Bishop’s University)
  • Andrea Price, Ph.D.  Dinoflagellate cysts as indicators of estuarine water quality.  Recipient of Canada Graduate Scholarship, GSA Research Award, and CAP Research Award.
  • Dante Torio, Ph.D. Modelling salt marsh response to sea level rise.
  • Paola Fajardo, M.Sc. Sustainability of controlled harvests in Mexican mangroves.  Recipient of fellowships from the Govt. of Mexico and World Wildlife Fund.

Past Graduate and Honours Students

  • Gabriel Lambert-Rivest, 2015. Is salt marsh production higher than agricultural production?
  • Brittney Roughan, B 2014. Effects of nitrogen loading on greenhouse gas fluxes from tidal salt marshes. (based at St. Francis Xavier University, co-supervised with L. Kellman)
  • Amy McGuire,  2013. Palynological record of landscape change in salt marshes of PEI and NB. Won best poster award at ACCESS annual conference
  • Thomas Neulieb, M.Sc. 2013. The marine reservoir effect in carbon-14 dating. (co-supervised with E. Levac).
  • Amina Hasan, M.Sc. 2012. Effects of sea surface temperature change on distribution of marine organisms. (co-supervised with E. Levac).
  • Emile Roy-Dufresne, M.Sc. 2012. Projected Distribution of the White-footed Mouse under Climate Change in Québec. (co-supervised with V. Millien).
  • Reilly Macdonald, B.Sc. Honours 2012.  Plant density and greenhouse gas flux in two Canadian salt marshes. (McGill School of Environment)
  • I. Florin Pendea(email)Ph.D. 2011.  Mid to late Holocene coastal landscape change in eastern James Bay.  Recipient of NSERC fellowship
  • Simone Sandercombie, M.Sc. 2011. The marine record of abrupt climate change at Bay of Islands, Newfoundland. (co-supervised with E. Levac).
  • Robby Marrotte, BSc. Honours. 2010. Utility of Nymphaeaceae sclereids in paleoenvironmental research.  Received best student poster award at AASP conference.
  • Olivia Yu, M.Sc. 2008.   Soil carbon in a grazed and ungrazed tidal marsh in the St. Lawrence Estuary.
  • Maude Beaumier, B.Sc. Honours, 2008. Tracing Nutrient Enrichment in Eastern Canadian Marshes. Recipient of Royal Canadian Geographic Society Research Grant.
  • Erica Lemieux, B.Sc. Honours,  2008.  How important are wetlands to threatened and endangered species? 
  • Stacey Byers M.Sc. Salt Marsh Recovery in the Bay of Fundy.
  • Elizabeth Flanary B.A. Honours, 2006. Plant zonation and geomorphic factors at a recovering salt marsh. Recipient of Royal Canadian Geographic Society Research Grant.
  • Paula Noel, M.Sc. 2006. Resilience of pool habitat in a Bay of Fundy salt marsh: a comparative study.   NSERC Industrial Fellowship.
  • Graham MacDonald, B.A. Honours, 2006. Tidal Channel Networks in Recovering Bay of Fundy Salt Marshes. Recipient of NSERC undergraduate fellowship and Royal Canadian Geographic Society Research Grant.
  • Sarah Vereault, B.Sc. Honours, 2006. Potential Changes in Sea Surface Temperature and Atlantic Salmon Migration in the Northwest Atlantic.
  • Grace Hung, M.Sc. 2005. Metal accumulation in surface sediments of salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy.
  • Marie Graf, M.Sc. 2004. Using palynological modern analogues to locate a buried dikeland soil in a recovering Bay of Fundy salt marsh FQRNT fellow.
  • Vera Pospelova ( Ph.D. 2003, NSERC & FCAR fellow, "Dinoflagellate Cyst assemblages and environmental factors controlling their distribution in New England estuaries."
  • Grace Hung, B.Sc. Honours. 2003, "Spatial Variability of Lead in Salt Marsh Sediments in the Bay of Fundy." Recipient of Royal Canadian Geographic Society Research Grant.
  • Zorana Spasojevic M.Sc. 2002, " Biogenic Silica and Diatom Centric/Pennate Ratios as Indicators of Historical Coastal Pollution."
  • C. Beth Beecher M.Sc. 2001, "Modern Pollen and Vegetation Relationships in Bay of Fundy Salt Marshes."
  • Yolanda Clegg, M.Sc. 1999, "Historical Inventory of Sedimentary Carbon and Metals in a Bay of Fundy Salt Marsh".
  • Richard Connor, M.Sc 1995, "A Carbon Budget for a Bay of Fundy Salt Marsh."
  • Alexei Smirnov, M.Sc. 1994, "Fluvial Transport of Pollen."
  • Ian Campbell, postdoc 1992, "Variation in Pollen Assemblages of the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana."
  • Robert Daoust
  • Scott Mathison
  • Helmer, L.  1995.  Determination of Sediment Accretion Rates for the Dipper Harbour Salt Marsh Using Pollen, Charcoal, and Historical Evidence.  Recipient of Royal Canadian Geographical Society research grant.
  • Lubke, R.  1995.  Sediment characteristics of a Bay of Fundy Salt Marsh.  
  • Knack, H.  1995.  The Origin and Effects of Sand and Organic-rich Sediment Deposits on a Bay of Fundy Salt Marsh; Dipper Harbour, New Brunswick. 
  • Dales, A.  1995.  Aspect and Wildfire Induced Variations in Vegetation and Soil Properties at Mt. Carmel, Israel. 
  • Haasz, D.  1994.  A Spatial Analysis of Herbivore of Red Oak. 
  • Daoust, R.  1993  Sea level rise in Dipper Harbor, Bay of Fundy.  Recipient of Royal Canadian Geographical Society research grant.
  • Costello, A.  1992.   Pollen Assemblages in Surface Sediments, Northern Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Mathison, S.W.  1991.  Foraminiferal Linings in Palynological Preparations of Barataria Basin, Louisiana.
  • McSweeney, K.  1991.  Creating an Ecology-Oriented Interpretive Trail Guide for the Mont St. Hilaire Nature Conservation Centre (site of UNESCO biosphere reserve). 

Graduate Student Opportunities

I welcome applications from students with a science background interested in conducting research on:

       the process of salt marsh recovery and restoration

       ecological services of recovering and reference salt marshes

       agricultural use of salt marshes

       differences in biogeochemistry of "natural", managed and recovering marshes

       the paleoecology of dyked marshes


Most research has a field and lab component. The importance of either component will vary with the project as well as skills and interest of the student.

Those students eligible for scholarship programs are strongly encouraged to apply for those programs - note that federal (Canadian NSERC, USA NFS) and most provincial programs have fall deadlines for the following September.

Please see graduate info on the Geography Department web site for more information on applying to McGill. Send an email to me with a short resume (including GPA and course background) attached if you are interested in joining our team.

(to top)

Publications (students or post-docs are denoted by boldface type)

Torio D. and Chmura, G.L.  under review.  Assessing Coastal Squeeze of Tidal Wetlands.  Journal of Coastal Research.

Hasan Khan, A., Levac, E. and Chmura, G.L.  accepted pending revision.  Future sea surface temperatures in Large Marine Ecosystems of the Northwest Atlantic.  ICES Journal of Marine Science

Byers, S. and Chmura, G.L.  in press.  Observations on shallow subsurface hydrology at Bay of Fundy salt marshes.  Journal of Coastal Research. Accepted Oct 2.

Pendea, I.F. and Chmura, G.L.  2012.  High Resolution Record of Carbon Accumulation Rates During Boreal Peatland Initiation.  Biogeosciences 9:2711–2717. doi:10.5194/bg-9-2711-2012

Pendea, I.F. and Chmura, G.L.  2012.  Calibration of pollen assemblages and carbon nitrogen ratios to discriminate boreal wetland types.  Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 174:48-56. doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2011.12.003

Pendea, I.F. and Chmura, G.L.  2012.  High Resolution Record of Carbon Accumulation Rates During Boreal Peatland Initiation. Biogeosciences Discussions

, I.F. and Chmura, G.L.  2012.  Calibration of pollen assemblages and carbon nitrogen ratios to discriminate boreal wetland types. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2011.12.003

, R., Chmura, G.L. and Stone, P.  2012.  Utility of Nymphaceae sclereids in paleoenvironmental reconstructions.  Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 169:29-37.

Chmura, G.L. Kellman, L. and Guntenspergen, G.R  2011.  The Greenhouse Gas Flux at the End of the Growing Season in a Northern Macrotidal and Microtidal Salt Marsh. Environmental Research Letters 6 044016. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044016

Chmura, G.L. 2011. What Do We need to Assess the Sustainability of the Tidal Salt Marsh Carbon Sink?  Ocean and Coastal Management. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2011.09.006

I.F., Chmura, G.L., Costopoulos A. 2011.  Mid to late Holocene fire history of eastern James Bay: investigating the environmental impact of early humans. GeoHydro2011 Proceedings of the Joint Meeting of the Canadian Quaternary Association (CANQUA) and the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH-CNC), (8 pages),

Mcleod, E., G.L. Chmura, Björk, M. Bouillon,, S., Duarte, C.M., Lovelock, C., Salm, R. Schlesinger, W., and Silliman, B.  2011.  A Blueprint for Blue Carbon: Towards an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9(10):552-560. doi:10.1890/110004

Noël, P.E. and Chmura, G.L.  2011. Spatial and Environmental Variability of Pools on a Natural and a Recovering Salt Marsh in the Bay of Fundy. Journal of Coastal Research 27(5): 847–856.

Pendea, I.F., Costopoulos, A., Nielsen, C., and Chmura, G.L.  2010.  A new shoreline displacement model for the last 7 ka from Eastern James Bay, Canada.  Quaternary Research 73:474–484.  Doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2010.02.001.

Yu, O. and Chmura, G.L. 2010.  Soil carbon is maintained under grazing in a St. Lawrence Estuary tidal marsh.  Environmental Conservation 36(4):312-320.

MacDonald, G.K., Noël, P.E, van Proosdij, D., and Chmura, G.L. 2010.  The legacy of agricultural reclamation on surface hydrology of two recovering salt marshes of the Bay of Fundy, Canada.  Estuaries and Coasts 33:151–160.  DOI 10.1007/s12237-009-9222-4

Graf, M.-T. and Chmura, G.L. 2010.  Reinterpretation of historical sea level variation on the Bay of Fundy.  The Holocene 20(1):7-11.

Chmura, G.L.  2009.  Tidal Salt Marshes.  In: Laffoley, D.d’A. and Grimsditch, G. (eds). The management of natural costal carbon sinks. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Graf, M.-T., Schwadron, M., Ross, M., Stone, P. and Chmura, G.L. 2008.  An Enigmatic Mineralized Layer in Everglades Tree Island Peats.  EOS 89(12):117-118.

Sunderland, E.M., Cohen, M., Selin, N.E., and Chmura, G.L.  2008.  Reconciling Models and Measurements to Assess Trends in Atmospheric Mercury Deposition.  Environmental Pollution 156(2):526-535.

Byers, S.E. and Chmura, G.L. 2007.  Salt Marsh Vegetation Recovery on the Bay of Fundy.  Estuaries and Coasts 30(5):869-877.

Hung, G.A. and Chmura, G.L. 2007.  Heavy Metal Accumulation in Surface Sediments of Salt Marshes of the Bay of Fundy. Estuaries and Coasts 30(4):725-734.

Graf , M.-T. and Chmura, G.L. 2006. Development of Modern Analogues for Natural, Mowed and Grazed Grasslands Using Pollen Assemblages and Coprophilous Fungi Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 141:139-149

Chmura , G.L., Stone, P.A., and Ross, M.S. 2006. Non-pollen Microfossils as Indicators of Change in Everglades Ecosystems Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 141:103-119

Hung , G.A. and Chmura, G.L. 2006. Mercury Accumulation in Surface Sediments of Salt Marshes of the Bay of Fundy. Environmental Pollution 142: 418-431. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2005.10.044

Chmura, G.L., Vereault, S.A., Flanary, E.A. 2005. Sea Surface Temperature Changes in the Northwest Atlantic under a 2°C Global Temperature Rise. Pp. 9-21 In Tin, T. (ed.) Implications of a 2°C Global Temperature Rise for Canada’s Natural Resources. World Wildlife Fund for Nature White Paper.

van Guelphen, L., Pohle, G., and Chmura, G.L. 2005. Impacts of Sea Surface Temperature Changes in the Northwest Atlantic under a 2°C Global Temperature Rise. Pp. 22-51 In Tin, T. (ed.) Implications of a 2°C Global Temperature Rise for Canada’s Natural Resources. World Wildlife Fund for Nature White Paper.

Pospelova, V., Chmura, G.L. and Latimer, J . 2005. Dinoflagellate cysts as indicators of estuarine pollution gradients.for Marine Ecology Progress Series 292:23-40 . .

Beecher, C.B. and Chmura, G.L. 2004.  Pollen-vegetation relationships in Bay of Fundy salt marshes.  Canadian Journal of Botany 82:663-670.

Chmura, G.L., Santos, A., Pospelova, V., Spasojevic, Z., Lam, R., and Latimer, J.S. 2004. Response of three paleo-primary production proxy measures to development of an urban estuary. Science of the Total Environment 320:225-243.

Paquette, C., Sundberg, K.L. Boumans, R.M.J., and Chmura, G.L. 2004. Changes in saltmarsh surface elevation due to variability in evapotranspiration and tidal flooding. Estuaries 27(1):82-89.

Chmura, G.L. and Hung, G. 2004. Controls on salt marsh accretion: a test in salt marshes of Eastern Canadian. Estuaries 27(1):70-81.

Pospelova, V. and Chmura, G.L. 2004 Environmental factors influencing the spatial distribution of dinoflagellate cyst assemblages in shallow lagoons of southern New England (USA). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 128:7-34.

Chmura, G.L., Anisfeld, S., Cahoon, D. and Lynch. J. 2003. Global carbon sequestration in tidal, saline wetland soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles pdf file

Latimer, J.S., Boothman, W.S., Pesch, C., Chmura, G.L., Santos, A., Pospelova, V., and Jayaraman, S. 2003.Environmental stress and recovery: the geochemical record of human disturbance in New Bedford Harbor and Apponagansett Bay, Massachusetts ( USA ). Science of the Total Environment 313:153-176.

Chmura, G.L. 2003. Chapter 3.5 Salt Marshes and MangroveSwamps. In Isla, F. I. (ed.) Coastal Zone and Estuaries, In Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, EOLSS Publishers, Oxford, UK, [].

Stone, P.A., Gleason, P.J. and Chmura, G.L. 2002. Chapter 3 Bayhead tree islands on deep peats of the northeastern Everglades. pp. 71-115 In Sklaar, F. and van der Valk, A.G. (eds) Tree Islands of the Florida Everglades. Kluwer Academic Press.

Pospelova, V., Chmura, G.L. Boothman, W. and Latimer J. 2002. Dinoflagellate cyst records and human disturbance in two neighboring estuaries, New Bedford Harbor and Apponagansett Bay, Massachusetts ( USA ). Science of the Total Environment 298/1-3:81-102. preprint pdf file

Connor, R.F., Chmura, G.L. and Beecher, C.B. 2001. Carbon accumulation in Bay of Fundy salt marshes: implications for restoration of reclaimed marshes. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 15(4): 943-954. pdf file

Chmura, G.L., Beecher, C.B., Helmer, L.L. and Sunderland, E.M. 2001. Rates of salt marsh sediment accumulation in the outer Bay of Fundy. Canadian Journal of Earth Science 38:1081-1092. pdf file

Chmura, G.L., Coffey, A. and Crago, R. 2001. Variation in surface sediment deposition on salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy. Journal of Coastal Research 17(1):221-227.

Connor, R.F. and G.L. Chmura. 2000. Dynamics of above- and belowground organic matter in a high latitude macrotidal saltmarsh. Marine Ecology Progress Series 204:101-110.

Sunderland, E.M. and Chmura, G.L. 2000. An inventory of historical mercury emissions in Maritime Canada. Science of the Total Environment 256(1):39-57.

Sunderland, E.M. and Chmura, G.L. 2000. The history of mercury emissions from fuel combustion in Maritime Canada. Environmental Pollution 110:297-306.

Chmura, G.L., A.N. Smirnov, and I. A. Campbell. 1999. Pollen Transport through Distributaries and Depositional Patterns in Coastal Waters. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 149(1-4):257-270.

Chmura, G.L., P. Chase, and J. Bercovitch. 1997. Climatic Controls on the Middle Marsh Zone in Fundy Saltmarshes. Estuaries 20(4):689-699.

Working Group on Sea Level Rise and Wetland Systems. 1997. Forecasting the fate of coastal wetlands. EOS 78(25):257/262.

Smirnov, A.N., G.L. Chmura, and M. Lapointe. 1996. Spatial Distribution of Suspended Pollen in the Mississippi River as an Example of Pollen Transport in Alluvial Channels.  Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 92(1-2):69-81.

Daoust, R.J., T.R. Moore, G.L. Chmura, and J.F. Magenheimer. 1996. Chemical Evidence of Environmental Changes and Anthropogenic Influences in a Bay of Fundy Saltmarsh. J. Coastal Research 12(2):420-433.

Magenheimer, J.F., T.R. Moore, G.L. Chmura, and R. Daoust. 1996. Methane and Carbon Dioxide Flux from a Macrotidal Salt Marsh, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. Estuaries 19(1):139-145.

Chmura, G.L and D. Eisma. 1995. A Palynological Study of Surface and Suspended Sediment on a Tidal Flat: Implications for Pollen Transport and Deposition in Coastal Waters. Marine Geology 128:183-200.

Mathison, S.W. and G.L. Chmura. 1995. Utility of Microforaminifera Test Linings in Palynological Preparations. Palynology 19:79-86.

Chmura, G.L. and P. Aharon. 1995 Stable Carbon Isotope Signatures of Sedimentary Carbon in Coastal Wetlands as Indicators of Salinity Regime. J. Coastal Research. 11(1):124-135.

Campbell, I.A. and G.L. Chmura. 1994 Pollen Distribution in the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana, USA . Palynology 18:55-65. Chmura, G.L. 1994 Palynoflora of Marsh Environments in the Modern Mississippi Delta. Geological Society of America Bulletin 106(5):705-714.

Chmura, G.L. and E.C. Kosters. 1994. Storm Deposition and Patterns of 137Cs Accumulation in Marsh Sediments of the Mississippi Delta Plain. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 39:33-44.

Chmura, G.L., R. Costanza and E.C. Kosters. 1992. Modelling Coastal Marsh Stability in Response to Sea Level Rise: a Case Study in Coastal Louisiana, USA . Ecological Modelling 64:47-64.

Chmura, G.L. and Kam-Biu Liu. 1990. Pollen in the Lower Mississippi River. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 64:253-261.

Chmura, G.L, P. Aharon, R.A. Socki and R. Abernethy. 1987. An Inventory of 13C Abundances in Coastal Wetlands of Louisiana, USA : Vegetation and Sediments. Oecologia 74:264-271.

Kosters, E.C., G.L. Chmura and A. Bailey. 1987. Sedimentary and Botanical Factors Influencing Peat Accumulation in the Mississippi Delta Plain. J. Royal Geological Society of London 144:423-434.

(to top)

Teaching (Courses I teach or have taught):
  • Ecological Restoration (GEOG551)
  • Wetlands (GEOG470)
  • Local Geographical Excursion (GEOG290)
  • Global Change: Past, Present and Future (GEOG205B)
  • Environmental Systems (GEOG203A)
  • Ecological Biogeography (GEOG350A);see conference abstract prepared by some of 2003 class
  • Ecology of Coastal Waters (GEOG497)
  • Research in Atlantic Canada (GEOG466)
  • Historical Ecology Techniques/Quaternary Paleoecology (GEOG550);see conference abstract prepared by 2003 class
  • Preparation for Graduate Research (GEOG183-631)

Past Coordinator of
Field Study Semester on the Bay of Fundy
("Environmental and Social Change on the Bay of Fundy")

(to top)

Other Activities

Director. Global Environment and Climate Change Centre (GEC3)

The Canadian Geographer
Editorial Board

BoFEP (Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership)
Past Member Steering Committee

Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Board of Directors and Users' Committee

Canadian Quaternary Association
Past-President (1999-2001)
Canadian Delegate to International Union for Quaternary Research Congress (1999)
Past newsletter editor

Canadian Association of Palynologists

Past International Councilor to International Federation of Palynological Societies

(to top)



Contact Information

Department of Geography

McGill University

805 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6

phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

UnderGraduate Email

Graduate Email

Last updated 12/11/2011