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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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

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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

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