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Michelle A. Chaput

Contact Information

Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics

University of Ottawa
60 University Private
Ottawa , ON K1N 6N5

E-mail: mchaput (at) uottawa.ca

Twitter @MAEEChaput




Lac Noir, Québec, Canada

Research Interests

  • The Early Anthropocene Hypothesis and prehistoric human land use and land cover change
  • Paleoecological/model-based reconstructions of changes in vegetation cover/density
  • Paleodemography and radiocarbon-based estimates of population change
  • Systematics, taxonomy and biogeography
  • Paleoclimate reconstruction
  • Historical ecology
  • Geomatics and spatial analysis

Teaching Experience

  • Biogeography (GEG3114) - Fall 2017
  • The Anthropocene: Human impacts on the environment (GEG3300) - Spring 2018

Academic Background

• 2013 – 2018
Ph.D. Geography
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Ottawa
Thesis: Environmental change and population history of North America from the Late Pleistocene to the Anthropocene
Supervisor: Dr. Konrad Gajewski

• 2011 – 2012
Fast-track from M.Sc. to Ph. D. in Geography
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Ottawa
Fast-track research paper: A record of Holocene lake-level change and vegetation dynamics near the Aishihik Lake area in southwestern Yukon
Supervisor: Dr. Konrad Gajewski

See my Graduate Student Report in section 2 of the Spring 2014 AMQUA newsletter

• 2006– 2011
Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa
Thesis : The Phylogenetic Utility of Molecular and Morphological Characters: An Example from Carex section Griseae (Cyperaceae)
Supervisor: Dr. Julian Starr

Publications and Citations


•Chaput, M.A., and Gajewski, K. 2018. Relative pollen productivity estimates and changes in Holocene vegetation cover in the deciduous forest of southeastern Quebec, Canada. Botany 96(5): 299-317.

•Gajewski, K., Kriesche, B., Chaput, M., Kulik, R., and Schmidt, V. 2018. Human-vegetation interactions during the Holocene in North America. Journal of Archaeological Science, submitted.

•Kriesche, B., Chaput, M., Kulik, R., Gajewski, K., and Schmidt, V. 2017. Estimation of spatio-temporal correlations of prehistoric population and vegetation in North America. Geographical Analysis, submitted.

•Chaput, M.A., and Chevalier, M. 2017. What should the research questions and priorities in paleoscience be for the next ten years? Past Global Changes Magazine 25(2): 104. https://doi.org/10.22498/pages.25.2.104

• Chaput, M.A., and Gajewski, K. 2016. Radiocarbon Dates as Estimates of Ancient Human Population Size. Anthropocene 15: 3-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2015.10.002

• Chaput, M.A., Kriesche, B., Betts, M., Martindale, A., Kulik, R., Schmidt, V. and Gajewski, K. 2015. Spatiotemporal Distribution of Holocene Populations in North America. PNAS 112(39): 12127-12132. doi:10.1073pnas.1505657112. PDF. PDF+SI.

• Chaput, M.A., and Gajewski, K. 2014. Analysis of Daily Air Temperatures Across a Topographically Complex Alpine Region of Southwest Yukon, Canada. Arctic 37(4): 537-553. PDF.


• Chaput, M. (2014). Gyrosigma acuminatum. In Diatoms of the United States. http://westerndiatoms.colorado.edu/taxa/species/gyrosigma_acuminatum

News/Conferences/International Events

• 2018
May 2018 marked the 23rd annual Canadian Geographic Challenge which is an event which celebrates student passion for geography and learning! Hosted by Canadian Geographic Education, this event culminates in a national competition in Ottawa during which 20 students compete for the spot of top finalist! I had the opportunity to organize the fieldwork round of this national competition. During this round, students had to complete different types of field work and answer questions based on their results. This included identifying trees to species, testing soil pH and nutrients, taking meteorological and topographic measurements, a land survey and comparing the characteristics of different types of rocks. Check out the results!

• 2018
From August 7 - 11, 2018, the Joint CANQUA/AMQUA meeting will take place at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. I will be co-chairing two sessions, one on Syntheses Of Human-Environment Interactions During The Holocene and one on Reducing The "Time To Science": Data Management In The Quaternary Sciences. Please visit the official web page for more information and see a poster on a special event I am helping to organize!

• 2017
Want to know what some of the most important research questions and priorities in paleoscience are? Read my collaborative report in the Past Global Changes Magazine.

• 2017
Great progress is being made on the creation of the world's largest database of archaeological radiocarbon data! Check out the news feature on the Department of Gegoraphy, Environment and Geomatics webpage, the Nature bulletin describing the project, and visit the database website!

• 2017
In July 2017, the Canadian Geographic Education team organized a Summer Institute for primary and secondary school teachers from across Canada. The objective of this institute was to introduce teachers to new and exciting ways of incoporating fieldwork into their curricula. I was invited to speak about my fieldwork experiences and run a fieldwork/lab activity with the group. See the presentation I gave here, which includes some great fieldwork photos and educational resources, as well as the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics news bulleting about the Institute

• 2017
In May 2017, the 5th PAGES (PAst Global changES) Open Science Meeting, the 3rd PAGES Young Scientists Meeting and the 3rd LandCover6k Meeting took place in and around Zaragoza and Morillo de Tou, Spain. Over 900 paleoscientists gathered to discuss the excellent research completed by the PAGES community over the last four years, the importance of global paleoresearch and the pressing questions that need attention in the coming decade. I gave a presentation entitled Archaeological And Paleoenvironmental Perspectives of Holocene Human-Environment Interactions during the human-environment dynamics session at the OSM, updating the community on the state of the art of using radiocarbon and fossil pollen data to understand past relationships between humans and the North American landscape. Please view my posters on pollen productivity estimation, methods for studying human-environment interaction, and archaeological and paleoenvironmental records.

• 2016
In the beautiful town of Utrecht, the Netherlands, I attended the LandCover6k General Meeting where I discussed the current state of land cover and land use change research with colleagues from across the world. Topics such as the use of pollen productivity estimates (PPEs) in reconstructing land cover change and the usefulness of land cover data in land use model scenarios were discussed. I presented two posters which can be viewed here and here. Read about my experience at the conference on page 5 of the Canadian Association of Palynologists December 2016 Newsletter.

• 2016
In June 2016, the C4P Paleodata Community Development Event (C4P-CDE) was held at NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder, CO. Here, members of the paleoscience community put their heads together to come up with better ways to disseminate and use paleobiological and paleoenvironmental data. Emphasis was placed on the Paleobiology Database and the Neotoma Paleoecology Database. A list of other resources is available here.

• 2015
I discussed a poster showcasing radiocarbon dates from Québec at the 2015 Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union in Montreal, Québec. The poster can be viewed here.

• 2015
I presented the results of a collaborative analysis of the distribution of prehistoric humans in North America based on data from the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database (CARD) at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The presentation was given during a session on New Perspectives in Paleoenvironmental Change and Geoarchaeology in North America.

• 2014
As part of the 13th International NCCR Climate Summer School in Grindelwald, Switzerland, I attended a conference on "Linking land use, land cover and climate". Young researchers and international experts studying climate change, anthropogenic land use and land cover change, and "safe operating scenarios" for the future came together to discuss the consequences of intense land use and consider possible mitigation strategies. I presented a research proposal for studying past human-vegetation-climate dynamics in North America in the context of the Anthropocene.

• 2014
Between May 19th and June 13th, I participated in a course on the Ecology and Systematics of Diatoms offered by the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. This course, co-taught by Dr. Mark Edlund and Dr. Sarah Spaulding, was a field-oriented class with a laboratory component during which I was able to familiarize myself with the taxonomy and microscopic identification of diatoms. In class we discussed proper slide mounting techniques, bright field, dark field and phase contrast microscopy, and stratified counting procedures, as well as the evolutionary history and biogeography of diatoms. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a class or workshop at the Iowa Lakeside Lab, I would highly recommend it!

• 2013
At the International Biogeography Society's Special Meeting in Montreal, I presented a poster on "Holocene human-vegetation-climate interactions in North America". The theme of this meeting was "The Geography of Species Associations" which gave researchers in fields such as community assembly, null models in ecology, diversification, phylogeography and large-scale studies a chance to share their research results with an international audience.

• 2013
I attended the 12th International NCCR Climate Summer School hosted by the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The theme of the summer school was "From climate reconstructions to climate predictions", a topic which gave young researchers the chance to attend keynote plenary lectures and workshops which focused on the important link between past and future climate scenarios. I also had the opportunity to present my own research during a poster session dedicated to recent advances in multyproxy climate reconstructions.

• 2013
I travelled to Kalmar , Sweden , to participate in a short course (The theory of pollen analysis and its applications) offered by Dr. Shinya Sugita and the Department of Biology at Linnaeus University. I studied concepts and mechanisms essential for paleoecological studies and the application of models, such as REVEALS and LOVE, used in the reconstruction of vegetation and land cover using fossil pollen.

• 2012
I travelled to London, England, to participate in two short courses (Ostracod Analysis/Stable Isotopes and Environmental Change) offered by the Geography Department at University College London. Here I practiced modern laboratory techniques associated with the use of paleoenvironmental proxies to reconstruct climate change.

• 2009
As a student in BIO3103 (Ecology of East African Ecosystems), I travelled to Tanzania, East Africa, and took part in an educational and multicultural experience devoted to raising awareness about malaria-endemic regions of the world, distributing bed nets to families in need and studying agroforestry techniques for the rehabilitation of degraded land.

Research Assistantships

  • Winter 2017 - Development of a summer mini-course for high school students interested in geography, environment, geomatics and engineering
  • Summer 2017 - Walkability Index study in association with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)

Teaching Assistantships

  • GEG2704 - Climatologie (Winter 2017)
  • GEG3107 - Geography of Polar Regions (Fall 2017)
  • GEG4129 - Global Climate Change (Winter 2016)
  • GEG2304 - Climatology (Fall 2013)
  • GEG3114 - Biogeography (Fall 2012/2014/2015)
  • GEG2109 - Canada and its Regions (Winter 2012/2013/2016)
  • GEG3107 - Geography of Polar Regions (Winter 2012)
  • GEG3102 - Hydrology (Fall 2011)
  • GEG1301 - Introduction to the Physical Environment (Fall 2011)

Data and Downloads

  • The daily and hourly temperature data from Chaput and Gajewski (2014) are available here
  • The movie from Chaput et al. (2015) is available here
  • The entire set of population and vegetation animations (Gajewski et al., unpublished) are here

Professional Affiliations


  • Je parle et j'écris courramment le français et l'anglais




Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon, Canada

Trying to get to the river! (Photo courtesy of Frank Oliva)

A beautiful day for lake coring in Aishihik Valley, Yukon, Canada

2014 NCCR Summer School, Grindelwald, Switzerland (Photo courtesy of Claire McKay)

Having some fun in Chicago with the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millenium Park following the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting

Walking through the Utrecht University Botanical Gardens following the 2016 LandCover6k Meeting in Utrecht.

The backdrop to the 3rd Annual PAGES YSM Meeting in Morillo de Tou, Spain

Last updated: September 2018

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