Landscape Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 419–433 | Cite as

Cumulative effects of forestry on habitat use by gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the boreal forest

  • Mélina Houle
  • Daniel FortinEmail author
  • Christian Dussault
  • Réhaume Courtois
  • Jean-Pierre Ouellet
Research Article


Forest harvesting involves the creation of roads and cutblocks, both of which can influence animal habitat use. We evaluated the cumulative effects of forestry on habitat selection by six packs of gray wolf (Canis lupus) widely distributed in Quebec’s boreal forest. Resource selection functions were used to evaluate cumulative effects at two levels. First, we studied how the response of wolves to roads and cutblocks varied within their home range (HR level) as a function of the local abundance of these habitat features. Second, we assessed whether differences in the response to roads and cutblocks observed among packs (inter-HR level) could be explained by variations in their average abundance among individual home ranges. At the HR level, we found that cumulative effects shaped habitat selection of wolves, and the nature of the effects varied during the year. For example, we detected a decrease in the selection of roads following an increase in local road density during the rendez-vous and the nomadic periods, but not during the denning period. At the inter-HR level, we found a functional response to logging activity only during the denning period. Packs with home ranges characterized by a larger proportion of recent cutblocks selected these cutblocks more strongly. We conclude that cumulative effects of logging activities occur at multiple levels, and these effects can have profound effects on habitat use by wolves, thereby influencing spatial predator–prey dynamics. Wildlife conservation and management in boreal ecosystems should thus account for cumulative impacts of anthropogenic features on animal distribution.


Cutblocks Cumulative effects Habitat selection Forestry Mixed effects logistic regression Predators Roads Resource selection functions Wolves 



Financial supports for field efforts and data analysis were funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)—Sylviculture and Wildlife Research Chair, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Fondation de la faune du Québec, and World Wildlife Fund. We thank Laurier Breton, Alain Desrosiers, Rolland Lemieux, and Marius Poulin for their help in the field. We thank Cheryl Johnson, Nicolas Courbin and James Hodson for their comments on a previous version of the paper.


  1. Apps CD, McLellan BN (2006) Factors influencing the dispersion and fragmentation of endangered mountain caribou populations. Biol Conserv 130:84–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey DW, Gross JE, Laca EA, Rittenhouse LR, Coughenour MB, Swift DM, Sims PL (1996) Mechanisms that result in large herbivore grazing distribution patterns. J Range Manage 49:386–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bates D, Sarkar D (2006) Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes. R package version 0.995-2Google Scholar
  4. Bayne EM, Van Wilgenburg SL, Boutin S, Hobson KA (2005) Modeling and field-testing of Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) responses to boreal forest dissection by energy sector development at multiple spatial scales. Landscape Ecol 20:203–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergman EJ, Garrott RA, Creel S, Borkowski JJ, Jaffe R, Watson FGR (2006) Assessment of prey vulnerability through analysis of wolf movements kill sites. Ecol Appl 16:73–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beyer HL (2006) Hawth’s analysis tool for ArcGIS. Available at
  7. Boucher Y, Arseneault D, Sirois L, Blais L (2009) Logging pattern and landscape changes over the last century at the boreal and deciduous forest transition in Eastern Canada. Landscape Ecol 24:171–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyce MS, Vernier PR, Nielsen SE, Schmiegelow FKA (2002) Evaluating resource selection functions. Ecol Modell 157:281–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cain AT, Tuovila VR, Hewitt DG, Tewes ME (2003) Effects of a highway and mitigation projects on bobcats in Southern Texas. Biol Conserv 114:189–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Courbin N, Fortin D, Dussault C, Courtois R (2009). Landscape management for woodland caribou: the protection of forest blocks influences wolf-caribou co-occurrence. Landscape Ecol doi:  10.1007/s10980-009-9389-x (in press)
  11. Courtois R, Ouellet JP, Gagné B (1998) Characteristics of cutovers used by moose (Alces alces) in early winter. Alces 34:201–211Google Scholar
  12. Courtois R, Dussault C, Potvin F, Daigle G (2002) Habitat selection by moose (Alces alces) in clear-cut landscapes. Alces 38:177–192Google Scholar
  13. Cushman SA, McGarigal K (2002) Hierarchical, multi-scale decomposition of species-environment relationships. Landscape Ecol 17:637–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dijak WD, Thompson FR (2000) Landscape and edge effects on the distribution of mammalian predators in Missouri. J Wildl Manage 64:209–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dussault C, Ouellet JP, Courtois R, Huot J, Breton L, Jolicoeur H (2005) Linking moose habitat selection to limiting factors. Ecography 28:619–628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dussault C, Courtois R, Ouellet JP (2006) A habitat suitability index model to assess moose habitat selection at multiple spatial scales. Can J For Res 36:1097–1107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) (2007) ArcGIS version 9.2. ESRI, RedlandsGoogle Scholar
  18. Farmer CJ, Person DK, Bowyer RT (2006) Risk factors and mortality of black tailed deer in a managed forest landscape. J Wildl Manage 70:1403–1415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fortin D, Fryxell JM, O’Brodovich L, Frandsen D (2003) Foraging ecology of bison at the landscape and plant community levels: the applicability of energy maximization principles. Oecologia 134:219–227PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Fortin D, Beyer HL, Boyce MS, Smith DW, Duchesne T, Mao J (2005) Wolves influence elk movements: behavior shapes a trophic cascade in Yellowstone National Park. Ecology 86:1320–1330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fuller TK (1989) Dynamics of wolves in North-Central Minnesota. Wildl Monogr 105:3–41Google Scholar
  22. Gillies CS, Hebblewhite M, Nielsen SE, Krawchuk MA, Aldridge CL, Frair JL, Saher DJ, Stevens CE, Jerde CL (2006) Application of random effects to the study of resource selection by animals. J Appl Ecol 75:887–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham MH (2003) Confronting multicollinearity in ecological multiple regression. Ecology 84:2809–2815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gustine DD, Parker KL, Lay RJ, Gillingham MP, Heard DC (2006) Interpreting resource selection at different scales for woodland caribou in winter. J Wildl Manage 70:1601–1614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hakkarainen H, Korpimäki E, Laaksonen T, Nikula A, Suorsa P (2008) Survival of male Tengmalm’s owls increases with cover of old forest in their territory. Oecologia 155:479–486CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hebblewhite M, Merrill E (2008) Modelling wildlife-human relationship for social species with mixed-effects resource selection models. J Appl Ecol 45:834–844CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hilborn R, Mangel M (1997) The ecological detective: confronting models with data. Princeton University Press, Princeton 315 pGoogle Scholar
  28. Hosmer W, Lemeshow S (2000) Applied logistic regression, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York 373 pGoogle Scholar
  29. Huberty CJ (1994) Applied discriminant analysis. Wiley-Interscience, New York 496 pGoogle Scholar
  30. ISATIS (2007) Isatis technical references, v.7.0, Geovariances et Ecole des Mines de Paris, 138 pGoogle Scholar
  31. James ARC, Stuart-Smith AK (2000) Distribution of caribou and wolves in relation to linear corridors. J Wildl Manage 64:154–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jedrzejewski W, Schmidt K, Theuerkauf J, Jedrzejewska B, Okarma H (2001) Daily movements and territory use by radio-collared wolves (Canis lupus) in Bialowieza Primeval Forest in Poland. Can J Zool 79:1993–2004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johnson CJ, Boyce MS, Mulders R, Gunn A, Gau RJ, Cluff HD, Case RL (2004) Quantifying patch distribution at multiple spatial scales: applications to wildlife-habitat models. Landscape Ecol 19:869–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Johnson CJ, Boyce MS, Case RL, Cluff HD, Gau RJ, Gunn A, Mulders R (2005) Cumulative effects of human developments on arctic wildlife. Wildl Monogr 160:1–37Google Scholar
  35. King DI, Degraaf RM, Griffin CR (1998) Edge-related nest predation in clearcut and groupcut stands. Conserv Biol 12:1412–1415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kohira M, Rexstad EA (1997) Diets of wolves, Canis lupus, in logged and unlogged forests of southeastern Alaska. Can Field-Nat 111:429–435Google Scholar
  37. Kunkel KE, Pletscher DH (2000) Habitat factors affecting vulnerability of moose to predation by wolves in southeastern British Columbia. Can J Zool 78:150–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kunkel KE, Pletscher DH (2001) Winter hunting patterns of wolves in and near Glacier National Park, Montana. J Wildl Manage 65:520–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kuzyk GW, Kneteman J, Schmiegelow FKA (2004) Winter habitat use by wolves, Canis lupus, in relation to forest harvesting in west-central Alberta. Can Field-Nat 118:368–375Google Scholar
  40. Linke J, Franklin SE, Huettmann F, Stenhouse GB (2005) Seismic cutlines, changing landscape metrics and grizzly bear landscape use in Alberta. Landscape Ecol 20:811–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mace RD, Waller JS, Manley TL, Lyon LJ, Zuuring H (1996) Relationships among grizzly bears, roads and habitat in the Swan Mountains, Montana. J Appl Ecol 33:1395–1404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Manly BFJ, McDonald LL, Thomas DL, McDonald TL, Erickson WP (2002) Resource selection by animals: statistical design and analysis for field studies, 2nd edn. Kluwer, Dordrecht 231 pGoogle Scholar
  43. McGarigal K, Romme WH, Crist M, Roworth E (2001) Cumulative effects of roads and logging on landscape structure in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado (USA). Landscape Ecol 16:327–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McLoughlin PD, Walton LR, Cluff HD, Paquet PC, Ramsay MA (2004) Hierarchical habitat selection by tundra wolves. J Mammal 85:576–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mech LD, Boitani L (2003) Wolves: behavior, ecology and conservation. The University of Chicago press, USA 448 pGoogle Scholar
  46. Mech LD, Fritts SH, Radde GL, Paul WJ (1988) Wolf distribution and road density in Minnesota. Wildl Soc Bull 16:85–87Google Scholar
  47. Messier F (1994) Ungulate population models with predation: a case study with North American moose. Ecology 72:478–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mladenoff DJ, Sickley TA, Haight RG, Wydeven AP (1995) A regional landscape analysis and prediction of favourable gray wolf habitat in the northern Great Lakes region. Conserv Biol 9:279–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mosnier A, Ouellet JP, Sirois L, Fournier N (2003) Habitat selection and home-range dynamics of the Gaspé caribou: a hierarchical analysis. Can J Zool 81:1174–1184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Newbury TL, Simon NPP (2005) The effects of clearcutting on snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) relative abundance in central Labrador. For Ecol Manage 210:131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nielsen SE, Herrero S, Boyce MS, Mace RD, Benn B, Gibeau ML, Jevons S (2004) Modelling the spatial distribution of human-caused grizzly bear mortalities in the Central Rockies ecosystem of Canada. Biol Conserv 120:101–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nielsen SE, Stenhouse GB, Boyce MS (2006) A habitat-based framework for grizzly bear conservation in Alberta. Biol Conserv 130:217–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Oehler JD, Litvaitis JA (1996) The role of spatial scale in understanding response of medium-sized carnivores to forest fragmentation. Can J Zool 74:2070–2079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pickens BA, Root KV (2009) Behavior as a tool for assessing a managed landscape: a case study of the Karner blue butterfly. Landscape Ecol 24:243–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Potvin F, Courtois R, Bélanger L (1999) Short-term response of wildlife to clear-cutting in Québec boreal forest: multiscale effects and management implications. Can J For Res 29:1120–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Potvin F, Breton L, Courtois R (2005a) Response of beaver, moose and snowshoe hare to clear-cutting in a Quebec boreal forest: a reassessment 10 years after cut. Can J For Res 35:151–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Potvin MJ, Drummer TD, Vucetich JA, Beyer DE, Peterson RO, Hammill JH (2005b) Monitoring and habitat analysis for wolves in upper Michigan. J Wildl Manage 69:1660–1669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. R Development Core and Team (2006) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing, Vienna, Austria. Available from
  59. Reed RA, Johnson-Barnard J, Baker WL (1996a) Contribution of roads to forest fragmentation in the Rocky Mountains. Conserv Biol 10:1098–1106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reed RA, Johnson-Barnard J, Baker WL (1996b) Fragmentation of a forested Rocky Mountain landscape, 1950–1993. Biol Conserv 75:267–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Riffell SK, Gutzwiller KJ, Anderson SH (1996) Does repeated human intrusion cause cumulative declines in avian richness and abundance. Ecol Appl 6:492–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ripple WJ, Beschta RL (2007) Restoring Yellowstone’s aspen with wolves. Biol Conserv 138:514–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Romero S, Campbell JF, Nechols JR, With KA (2009) Movement behavior in response to landscape structure: the role of functional grain. Landscape Ecol 24:39–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rowland MM, Wisdom MJ, Johnson BK, Kie JG (2000) Elk distribution and modeling in relation to roads. J Wildl Manage 64:672–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Saunders SC, Mislivets MR, Chen J, Cleland DT (2002) Effects of roads on landscape structure within nested ecological units of the northern Great Lakes region, USA. Biol Conserv 103:209–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schwarz G (1978) Estimating the dimension of a model. Ann Stat 6:461–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tapsoba D, Fortin V, Anctil F, Haché M (2005) Assignment of the kriging technique with external derivative for a reasoned cartography of the equivalent in snow water: application to the basins of the Gatineau river. Can J Civ Eng 32:289–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Theuerkauf J, Jedrzejewski W, Schmidt K, Gula R (2003) Spatiotemporal segregation of wolves from humans in the Bialowieza Forest (Poland). J Wildl Manage 67:706–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Thogmartin WE, Knutson MG (2007) Scaling local species-habitat relations to the larger landscape with a hierarchical spatial count model. Landscape Ecol 22:61–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Thompson CM, McGarigal K (2002) The influence of research scale on bald eagle habitat selection along the lower Hudson River, New York (USA). Landscape Ecol 17:569–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Thurber JM, Peterson RO, Drummer TD, Thomasma SA (1994) Gray wolf response to refuge boundaries and roads in Alaska. Wildl Soc Bull 22:61–68Google Scholar
  72. Trombulak SC, Frissell CA (2000) Review of ecological effects of roads on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conserv Biol 14:18–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Vospernik S, Reismoser S (2008) Modelling changes in roe deer habitat in response to forest management. For Ecol Manage 255:530–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Whittington J, St-Clair CC, Mercer G (2005) Spatial responses of wolves to roads and trails in mountain valleys. Ecol Appl 15:543–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wittmer HU, McLellan BN, Serrouya R, Apps CD (2007) Changes in landscape composition influence the decline of threatened woodland caribou population. J Anim Ecol 76:568–579CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. Yahner RH, Mahan CG (1997) Effects of logging roads on depredation of artificial ground nest in a forested landscape. Wildl Soc Bull 25:158–162Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mélina Houle
    • 1
  • Daniel Fortin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Dussault
    • 2
  • Réhaume Courtois
    • 3
  • Jean-Pierre Ouellet
    • 4
  1. 1.Chaire de recherche industrielle CRSNG-Université Laval en sylviculture et faune, Département de biologieUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Service de la faune terrestre et de l’avifauneQuebecCanada
  3. 3.Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Service de la biodiversité et des maladies de la fauneQuebecCanada
  4. 4.Département de biologie, chimie et sciences de la santéUniversité du Québec à Rimouski, Centre d’études nordiquesRimouskiCanada

Personalised recommendations