In her spare time, Dr. Lindo discovers and describes new species of soil arthropods.

Dr. Zoë Lindo -

Associate Professor 


Dr. Zoë Lindo is an expert in soil biodiversity and ecosystem function.  She has worked extensively in Canadian forests including the mixed-wood boreal of Alberta, the subarctic taiga of Quebec, the coastal temperate rainforest of British Columbia, and the black spruce / peat lands of Ontario.  


The overall focus of my research aims to mitigate biodiversity loss in association with anthropogenic environmental change and maintain ecosystem functioning in Canadian forest and soil ecosystems. I describe myself as a biodiversity scientist to encompass the breadth of my research in the areas of community ecology, soil ecology, and taxonomy.



 Students, Postdocs, and Research Assistants


Carlos Barreto – Ph.D. student (since 2016)

I acquired my B.Sc. in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Ouro Preto (Brazil) in 2012 where I studied Phylogenetics and Biogeography of true bugs that are important vectors for Chagas disease. Concomitantly, I worked on Heteroptera composition along different stages of forest succession in a state park. After graduating, I worked for an important consulting/research company where I investigated belowground/cave fauna. I was accepted by Western University for the Ph.D. in Biology as an international direct-entry student in Sep. 2016, and since then, I have been taking turns between field seasons and lab-controlled experiments at Western. The overall objective of my research is to understand how global change factors (e.g. warming) and cascading effects of global change (e.g. increased nutrient availability) affect peatland soil biodiversity and soil food web structure, and to link these changes to potential outcomes in peatland carbon storage.



Matt Meehan – Ph.D. student (since 2018)

I am a former undergraduate thesis student of Dr. Lindo (2014-15), where I studied the effect of different patch configurations of disturbance on the recolonization of mesofauna.  That project sparked my fascination in soil animal diversity.  I then moved to Edmonton where I worked at the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute as an oribatid mite taxonomist.  In addition, I completed my MSc. at the University of Alberta under Dr. Heather Proctor, where I catalogued the soil Mesostigmata that inhabit the boreal forests in Alberta, and determined their utility as a bioindicator of disturbance.  I am back in the Lindo Lab as a Ph.D. student, where I will be studying soil food webs to better understand the interactions of various functional and taxonomic groups. 




Jordan Kustec – M.Sc. student (since 2017)

I received my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at McGill University.  During my degree I developed interest in the entomological world, and became a cataloguer for Diptera specimens at the Lyman Entomological Museum.  Moreover, I worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada during my final year research project to assess the effects of oyster aquaculture gear in bay systems on ellgrass in Prince Edward Island.

During my graduate degree I will be researching trophic transfer in belowground (soil) food webs using methylmercury as an indicator.  I am excited to diversify my sample processing skillset, to become an expert at cataloguing soil fauna, and improve my overall knowledge of the entomological world.



Caitlyn Lyons – M.Sc. student (since 2017)

In the Lindo Lab I hope to further my ecological knowledge and contribute to the understanding of the impacts of climate change on the aboveground plant biodiversity and the ecosystem function of belowground communities in northern peatlands. Specifically, I am interested in studying the shift in peatland plant communities under climate change conditions and the potential impacts this has on the carbon use efficiency of microbial communities.



Grace Carscallen – M.Sc. student (since 2018)

I have my BSc. in Biology, Specialization:  Animal Biology, Entomology Stream from the University of Alberta. Since my undergraduate degree I have worked as a technician at the U of A, an intern at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and an employee with the Canadian Forestry Service.

I am continuing to develop my focus as a scientist, but I find myself most drawn to biodiversity and examining how it is affected by environmental changes and natural gradients. I love insects and I greatly enjoy collecting, curating, and identifying them as a hobby.

In the Lindo lab I will be comparing how the concentration of mercury in peatland insects varies in aquatic larval stages versus terrestrial adults, as well as across different taxa. I hope that the knowledge gained from this work can bring some new focus to the importance of peatland insects in the ecosystem, as well as contributing to the ongoing discussion of mercury levels in peatlands.


Madelaine Anderson – M.Sc. student (since 2018; co-supervised with Brian Branfireun)

I completed my BSc. in Applied Biology at the University of British Columbia. While studying in Vancouver I developed a strong interest in soil ecology. In conjunction with the Branfireun lab, I will research decomposition dynamics in Canadian boreal forest soils. I am interested in how litter quality affects decomposition rates and mercury storage and release in forest soils. I hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of how decomposition in forest stands relates to mercury availability and how these ecosystems and cycles will be affected by climate change.



Emily Purvis – B.Sc. Honor's student (since 2018)

I am currently in my fourth year of an Honors Specialization in Biology and a Minor in Environmental Science here at Western. I spent the last 12 months working as a co-op student with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). During this time, I got involved with sampling and identifying bumblebees for the MECP’s Bumblebee Abundance Monitoring Study that has been ongoing since 2015. For my undergraduate thesis, I will be utilizing the MECP’s yearly dataset to investigate differences in bumblebee abundance and diversity in agricultural and naturalized habitats. I will also be looking at the characteristics (e.g. nesting and food resources) of these habitats that may make one type more attractive to bumblebees than the other. 


Lab Alumni


Asma Asemaninejad - Ph.D. (2013-2016 co-supervised with R.G. Thorn)  Thesis:  The impacts of climate change on communities of fungi in boreal peatlands

Catherine Dieleman - Ph.D. (2012-2016 co-supervised with B. Branfireun)  Thesis: Ecosystem level effects of climate change on northern peatlands



Julia Palozzi - M.Sc. (2015-2017)  Thesis: Peatland plant-soil feedbacks dictate ecosystem properties and processes

Rachel Chambers - M.Sc. (2015-2017)  Thesis: The influence of adjacent forest and agriculture on restored grassland diversity and composition

Rosa Del Giudice - M.Sc. (2014-2016)  Thesis: Decomposition dynamics under climate change conditions in boreal peat

Paul George - M.Sc. (2013-2014)  Thesis: A comparison of community compositional analyses for the assessment of responses to wood-ash soil amendment by free-living nematodes

Matthew Turnbull - M.Sc. (2012-2014)  Thesis: The effects of global climate change on Canadian Boreal forest Collembola communities

Danielle Griffith - M.Sc. (2012-2014)  Thesis: Exploring climate change factors on nitrogen fixation and growth in the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme

Rachel Darvill - M.Sc. (2012-2014)  Thesis: Comparing and mapping ecosystem service use across interest groups in the Peace River Valley


B.Sc. Honor's

Devdutt Kamath - B.Sc. Honor's (2017-2016)  Thesis: Nematode functional diversity in contrasting boreal peatland sites

Nicole Pepe - B.Sc. Honor's (2016-2017)  Thesis: The effects of poly(ethyl)glyoxylate on microbial activity

Shauna Taylor - B.Sc. Honor's (2014-2015)  Thesis: The interactive role of edge effects and habitat quality in maintaining biodiversity

Matthew Meehan - B.Sc. Honor's (2014-2015)  Thesis: The effect of patch configuration disturbance for the recolonisation of mesofauna

Margaret Sawatzky - B.Sc. Honor's (2013-2014)  Thesis: Looking past the trees: The ecological significance of moss-associated cyanobacteria in response to climate change

Jamie Fraser - B.Sc. Honor's (2012-2013)   Thesis: Does functional diversity matter? Evaluating community responses of Collembola after Cd contamination and phytoremediation