Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FII Project R2003-222

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Amphibian populations as indicators of forest ecosystem integrity and recovery from forest harvesting of riparian areas in a coastal forest.

Author(s): Richardson, John S.; Lee, Tatiana
Imprint: Vancouver B.C. : University of British Columbia, 2003
Subject: Amphibians, British Columbia, Ecology
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program


Amphibians are considered to be a group of wildlife that is particularly sensitive to forest harvesting, and can be used as an indicator of riparian forest condition. We sampled populations of amphibians for 6 weeks in the autumn of 2002 at 6 sites associated with a riparian management experiment at UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest (north of Maple Ridge, BC). From spring 1997 to autumn 2000 (about 6 months sampling per year) we studied amphibian populations from before to after forest harvesting at these sites (2 controls, 2 with 30 m reserves, 2 with clearcut to streamside) in coastal hemlock forest. All 9 amphibian species expected to be found there were present at all sites. The year 2002 was unusual in that the weather remained dry into early November and amphibian activity did not begin until the rains started. A very large peak in activity occurred once rain started, but then ceased as the weather turned cold only two weeks later. These anomalous observations indicate the kind of variation that can potentially confound studies of wildlife populations and show the need for longer-term data series. Nevertheless, the relative abundances of amphibians showed no changes from the post-harvest patterns seen earlier (either higher or lower than controls and pre-harvest depending upon species). These results show that amphibian populations do not yet show signs of ‘recovery’ from the harvesting treatments, even on the sites with 30 m riparian reserves.
John S. Richardson and Tatiana Lee.

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Updated August 02, 2006 

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