Dr. Margaret Schmidt’s research program consists of two main areas: predictive mapping and modelling of soil type and soil properties at a regional scale; and studying the impacts of deciduous trees growing among conifers on nutrient cycling and site productivity.
Dr. Schmidt’s ongoing digital soil mapping research includes: comparing various machine learning techniques for mapping soil types; and developing predictive maps of parent material, exposed bedrock cover, and soil properties such as soil texture and available water holding capacity using machine learning techniques at a regional-scale. Current spatial soil information is limited in extent and in quality and Dr. Schmidt’s research program is providing improved methods for increasing the availability of crucial soil and land information for environmental modellers and land managers.
A second major focus of Dr. Schmidt’s research concerns the impact of various deciduous trees on soil properties, nutrient cycling, and conifer growth. Dr. Schmidt and her research group have studied species-speci c impacts of bigleaf maple, black cottonwood and vine maple growing within conifer forest of southwestern British Columbia. The research suggests that these deciduous species have the potential to increase nutrient availability in deciduous-conifer mixed stands, and they may be desirable species in temperate coastal forests. Dr. Schmidt’s research program is providing important knowledge concerning the role of deciduous species within conifer forest. This information will be increasingly important as there is evidence that the areal extent of the studied deciduous species may increase along with global warming.