Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FIA Project 1023002

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Stand Level Habitat Use By Furbearer Species In The Anahim Lake Area Of British Columbia

Author(s): Davis, Larry R.
Subject: British Columbia, Ecology, Forestry, Integrated resource management, Inventory, Wildlife
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program - Innovative

Abstract

The results of this study indicate that track transects can be used to examine stand level attributes for importance to furbearing species. The recommendations from this report should be used to direct forest development and identify important habitat attributes that can be managed for at the stand level.
Spruce is a habitat element that was positively linked to all seven animals examined here. Analyses indicate that mature and old spruce habitats are preferred by marten, lynx, ermine, snowshoe hare and red squirrel. For coyote, this was the only habitat used more than expected. Lynx also showed strong selection for habitats with greater numbers of both B1 and B2 spruce. Due to its importance for furbearing species, spruce leading habitats should be targeted when creating reserves in the West Chilcotin.
Increases in the amount of woody debris was associated with increased use for six out of the seven species examined here. Only coyote had a negative association with CWD variables. Woody debris provides both thermal and protection cover as well as escape terrain for both predators and prey. However, both the size and distribution of CWD are important. The arrangement of woody debris in this study was clumped with many segments having little or no debris while others had large numbers of pieces that were piled over 1m high. Adjusting harvesting methods to retain the vertical and spatial heterogeneity may provide managed stands with CWD characteristics that are important to furbearers.
Increased basal area in large dead trees was important for marten in this study for both univariate and multivariate analyses. This attribute was not significantly related to fisher habitat use; however, this study did not examine the maternal denning period, and fisher here may still require large diameter snags for maternal den sites during spring. Management should ensure that wildlife tree patches contain trees representative of the largest stem diameters in the area to be developed.
Prey species such as snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and grouse had strong positive relationships with marten, fisher, and lynx. Ensuring that managed habitats provide adequate resources for prey species is essential since predators will not persist without them. One area of concern may be the effects of thinning on this habitat. Pre-commercial thinning can reduce stem densities to 1200-1500 stems/ha whereas natural stands range between 5000-10,000 (or greater) stems/ha. Ensuring that areas of denser stems are retained may be important in maintaining this species.
Finally, this study examined stand level attributes that may affect furbearing species. However, landscape level attributes such as minimum viable patch size and connectivity are also likely to impact furbearing species. Future studies should examine the effects at this level of habitat organization and the impacts of the current mountain pine beetle epidemic.


For further information, please contact Larry R. Davis, DWB Forestry Services Ltd. (dwblarry@bcinternet.net)

Updated September 08, 2005 

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