Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 163–179 | Cite as

Forest management impacts on capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) habitat distribution and connectivity in the Carpathians

  • Martin Mikoláš
  • Martin Tejkal
  • Tobias Kuemmerle
  • Patrick Griffiths
  • Miroslav Svoboda
  • Tomáš Hlásny
  • Pedro J. Leitão
  • Robert C. Morrissey
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Distribution and connectivity of suitable habitat for species of conservation concern is critical for effective conservation planning. Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), an umbrella species for biodiversity conservation, is increasingly threatened because of habitat loss and fragmentation.

Objective

We assessed the impact of drastic changes in forest management in the Carpathian Mountains, a major stronghold of capercaillie in Europe, on habitat distribution and connectivity.

Methods

We used field data surveys with a forest disturbance dataset for 1985–2010 to map habitat suitability, and we used graph theory to analyse habitat connectivity.

Results

Climate, topography, forest proportion and fragmentation, and the distance to roads and settlements best identified capercaillie presence. Suitable habitat area was 7510 km2 in 1985; by 2010, clear-cutting had reduced that area by 1110 km2. More suitable habitat was lost inside protected areas (571 km2) than outside (413 km2). Habitat loss of 15 % reduced functional connectivity by 33 % since 1985.

Conclusions

Forest management, particularly large-scale clear-cutting and salvage logging, have substantially diminished and fragmented suitable capercaillie habitat, regardless of the status of forest protection. Consequently, larger areas with suitable habitat are now isolated and many patches are too small to sustain viable populations. Given that protection of capercaillie habitat would benefit many other species, including old-growth specialists and large carnivores, conservation actions to halt the loss of capercaillie habitat is urgently needed. We recommend adopting policies to protect natural forests, limiting large-scale clear-cutting and salvage logging, implementing ecological forestry, and restricting road building to reduce forest fragmentation.

Keywords

Forest management Clear-cutting Carpathian Ecoregion Connectivity Forest disturbance Habitat fragmentation Habitat modelling Umbrella species 

Supplementary material

10980_2016_433_MOESM1_ESM.doc (6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 6102 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Mikoláš
    • 1
    • 2
  • Martin Tejkal
    • 3
  • Tobias Kuemmerle
    • 4
    • 5
  • Patrick Griffiths
    • 5
  • Miroslav Svoboda
    • 1
  • Tomáš Hlásny
    • 1
    • 6
  • Pedro J. Leitão
    • 5
  • Robert C. Morrissey
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry and Wood SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PragueSuchdolCzech Republic
  2. 2.PRALESRosinaSlovakia
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PragueSuchdolCzech Republic
  4. 4.Integrative Research Institute on Transformation in Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys)Humboldt-University BerlinBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Geography DepartmentHumboldt-University BerlinBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Department of Forest and Landscape EcologyNational Forest Centre – Forest Research Institute ZvolenZvolenSlovakia
  7. 7.Plant and Environmental SciencesNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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