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Roads, logging, and the large-mammal community of an eastern Canadian boreal forest

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Abstract:

We evaluated hypotheses concerning the distributions of large mammals in a 60 000 km2 study area that encompassed the contact zone between Ontario’s roadless north and the postlogging southern landscape. We estimated occurrence probability in 575 sample units for woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou (Gmelin, 1788)), wolverine (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)), gray wolf (Canis lupus L., 1758), moose (Alces alces (L., 1758)), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman, 1780)). We used ordinations and spatial regressions to assess the contributions of parameters to species occurrence. Roads and cutovers were most abundant in the south, leading to an increased prevalence of deciduous forest. Mature coniferous forest, however, occurred most commonly in the north. Occurrence probabilities for moose and deer were greatest in the south, in close association with deciduous trees. Wolf occurrence was also greatest in the south, positively related to both deciduous forest and road density. Caribou occurrence, however, was positively related to mature coniferous forest and negatively related to both wolf occurrence and roads. Wolverine occurrence was negatively related to deciduous forest. Our surveys demonstrated distinct mammal communities in the northern and southern halves of our study area, a separation that appeared to be mediated by deciduous forest and roads.

Nous avons évalué des hypothèses sur la répartition des grands mammifères dans une région d’étude de 60 000 km2 qui chevauche la zone de contact entre les paysages sans routes du nord de l’Ontario et les paysages du sud affectés par la coupe du bois. Nous avons estimé les probabilités d’occurrence du caribou des forêts (Rangifer tarandus caribou (Gmelin, 1788)), du carcajou (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)), du loup gris (Canis lupus L., 1758), de l’orignal (Alces alces (L., 1758)) et du cerf de Virginie (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman, 1780)) dans 575 unités d’échantillonnage. Des ordinations et des régressions spatiales ont servi à évaluer les contributions des variables à l’occurrence des espèces. Les routes et les zones coupées sont plus abondantes dans le sud, ce qui explique la prévalence plus importante de la forêt décidue. Cependant, la forêt de conifères mature est plus fréquente dans le nord. Les probabilités d’occurrence de l’orignal et du cerf sont supérieures dans le sud, en forte association avec les arbres décidus. L’occurrence du loup est aussi plus importante dans le sud, en relation positive avec la forêt décidue et la densité des routes. En revanche, l’occurrence du caribou est en relation positive avec la forêt de conifères mature et en relation négative avec l’occurrence du loup et des routes. L’occurrence du carcajou est en relation négative avec la forêt décidue. Nos inventaires démontrent l’existence de communautés distinctes de mammifères dans les moitiés nord et sud de notre région d’étude, une séparation qui semble s’expliquer par les forêts décidues et les routes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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