Wildlife community patterns in relation to landscape structure and environmental gradients in a Swedish boreal ecosystem
Authors: Wallgren, Märtha; Bergström, Roger; Danell, Kjell; Skarpe, Christina
Source: Wildlife Biology, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2009 , pp. 310-318(9)
Publisher: Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Abstract:Many environmental patterns that may have profound effects on wildlife communities occur at the landscape scale, e.g. habitat fragmentation, human demography and distribution of various resources. In order to understand how alterations of such patterns could influence e.g. wildlife species occurrences and community composition, it is important to first study these relationships empirically and at the appropriate scale. We surveyed the wildlife community in a boreal ecosystem in central Sweden using pellet group counts, while walking 'wildlife triangle'. Our main aim was to investigate how the distribution of medium- and large-sized wild mammals and large-sized forest birds were affected by environmental variables at the landscape scale. In 2001-2003, pellet groups of mammals and forest birds were counted on 211 triangular routes with a perimeter of 4+4+4 km. The pellet groups which had accumulated after leaf fall were counted in spring. The environmental properties of each triangle, including information on latitude, altitude, infrastructure, land cover, forest type and forest stage, were determined using GIS maps. Statistical analyses involved mainly ordination (Principal Component Analysis, PCA). Significant environmental variables explaining the wildlife community composition and distribution in the boreal ecosystem were altitude, clear-felling and infrastructure. Our conclusion, however, is that most boreal mammal and forest bird species are habitat generalists and show little spatial pattern in distributions at the landscape scale. This indicates that habitat selectiveness probably occurs at a local scale in the boreal forest. Ultimately, our conclusion provides important direction for e.g. conservation measures and wildlife management.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 2009
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