Biological Sciences

Karen Christensen-Dalsgaard

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

PhD (Manchester)

6-118A, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB



Following a MSc in marine microbial ecology at Copenhagen University, Dr. Christensen-Dalsgaard moved into plant sciences and did a PhD in tropical plant physiology based out of Manchester University but with field work in Thailand and French Guiana. Subsequently two post-doc positions at the University of Alberta allowed her to enter the fascinating world of frost damage to the vascular system of trees.

Dr. Christensen-Dalsgaard's research has focused on how hydraulic stress adaptations and the need to transport water have shaped the physiology, environmental response and functional morphology of organisms. Most of her work has centered on how combined hydraulic and mechanical stress adaptations as well as frost damage impacts the vascular system of woody plants. However, she has also worked on fluid flow through the feeding structures of protozoa and sponges, and assessed the potential impacts of policy changes to aquatic ecosystems.

Over the past year, Dr. Christensen-Dalsgaard has moved these studies into the urban environment. Research over the past two decades has established the importance of urban green space ecology for creating sustainable cities. To understand impacts of climate change on the function and long-term resilience of the urban ecosystem, we need to understand how plant-based physiological responses impact specific niches and vary with environmental gradients. Further, we need to understand the role of mutualistic symbiotic interactions in mitigating the impact of compounded stressors. The long-term objective of her research program is to study the stress physiology of woody plants within urban environments in Canada, with Edmonton as a model system.

Available to supervise senior students' independent study.

Tree physiology, plant stress response, plant water relations, urban ecology, protozoa, fluid dynamics, reclamation and restoration

Teaching and Research Interests


Teaching interests:

  • BIOL107 Introduction to Cell Biology
  • BOTN205 Fundamentals of Plant Biology
  • BOTN305 Plant responses and interactions
  • BIOL 365 Tropical Rainforest Ecology
  • BIOL 410 Techniques in Field Ecology
  • BIOL 495 Special Topics
  • BIOL 498 Advanced Independent Study

Research training:

MacEwan is an undergraduate university and, as such, undergraduate research projects are at the core of all Dr. Christensen-Dalsgaard's research activities. Undergraduate students can at an early stage of their post-secondary education be given the opportunity for research training and responsibilities typically associated with graduate level studies. Her goal with this training is to equip students with the skills required for effectively transitioning into roles as productive members of the workforce or the graduate student community. Studies done within the urban environment lend themselves uniquely well to providing these skills through student participation in research projects; it is possible for multiple students to receive field-based training without the costs associated with travel and field accommodation in remote locations. Students can participate regardless of family obligations and disabilities that would make it difficult for them to be away from home for extended periods of time. Though the research questions of the present program are suitable for graduate-level research projects, aspects can easily be broken down into smaller sub-projects suitable for undergraduate participation. Even these smaller projects allow students to experience how research can improve the quality of life of Canadians and lead to improvements in city planning on a local, national and international scale.

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Tyree MT. (2014). Frost fatigue and spring recovery in three diffuse porous species. Plant, Cell and Environment. 37(5): 1074-1085.

Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Sinnatamby RN, Poesch M. (2014). Metrics for assessing fisheries productivity and offsetting strategies under Canada's new Fisheries Act. 58. Oil Sands Research and Information Network.

Mah JL*, Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Leys SP. (2014). Choanoflagellate and choanocyte collar-flagellar systems and the assumption of homology. Evolution and Development. 16(1): 25-37.

Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Tyree MT. (2013). Does freezing and dynamic flexing of frozen branches impact the cavitation resistance of Malus domestica and the Populus clone: Walker?. Oecologia. 173(3): 665-674.

Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Ennos AR. (2012). Effects of drought acclimation on the mechanical properties of Ochroma pyramidale, Betula pendula and Acacia karroo tree seedling stems. Forestry. 85: 215-223.

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • Internal research fund, MacEwan University (2016)


Professional Associations / Memberships

Curriculum committee, Biological Sciences, MacEwan University 

Speaker series coordinator, Biological Sciences, MacEwan University