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The Effects of Forestry Site Preparation on Mountain Beaver Demographics and Associated Damage to Tree Seedlings

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Abstract:

Timber resources are a vital part of the economy in the Pacific Northwest, yet reforestation efforts are often hampered by animal damage. Understanding the factors that influence seedling damage can assist managers in implementing appropriate techniques to reduce species-specific damage. I radio-collared and monitored mountain beavers (Aplodontia rufa) from preharvest to seedling planting to determine the impacts of forest management practices on demographics. In addition, I monitored Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings on 28 plots on two harvest units (Vesta and Schoolhouse) to determine the effects of chemical site preparation on mountain beaver foraging and subsequent seedling damage. Mountain beaver densities differed between silvicultural treatments (F3,39 = 3.58, P < 0.02), although reproductive success did not (2 = 0.14, df = 1, P = 0.70). Larger mountain beaver home ranges were documented in the mature timber compared with those following harvest. Home ranges were also larger in the chemical site preparation portion of the unit (mean = 3.37 ± 0.9 ha) than in the nontreated portion of the unit (mean = 0.82 ± 0.17 ha) on Vesta. Herbicide treatment did not promote seedling damage on either unit. Vegetation does not appear to be the only factor influencing mountain beaver movements and seedling damage. Availability of water is very important for mountain beavers and may also influence their foraging choice, as well as contributing to their increased movements in mature timber (reduced groundwater) versus clearcut areas. Understanding the effects of vegetation on population demographics and subsequent seedling damage may allow for initiating a nonlethal management method using alternative forage.

Keywords: Aplodontia rufa; Douglas-fir; damage; forest management; herbicide; mountain beaver; seedlings

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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