Sélection d'habitat du lièvre d'Amérique en forêt boréale irrégulière aménagée

Authors: Hodson, James
Advisor: Fortin, DanielBélanger, Louis
Abstract: This thesis explores how different components of natural and human disturbance regimes shape the distribution of a key boreal forest herbivore, the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). I investigated both broad-scale changes in hare abundance during forest succession and fine-scale responses to heterogeneity created by canopy gap dynamics in old-growth forests. I then evaluated how hare respond to silvicultural treatments designed to maintain the irregular structure of old-growth stands using patterns of density-dependent habitat selection and browse history reconstruction. Snowshoe hare followed a bimodal abundance distribution with stand age, with a pronounced peak in density between 40-50 years post-disturbance followed by a second more subtle increase phase during late-succession. Within old-growth stands, canopy gaps offered areas of higher food availability, but foraging and movement behaviours indicated that hares perceived a greater risk of predation within openings. The structure of old-growth stands thus appears to impose a trade-off between acquiring food and avoiding predation. The response of snowshoe hare to forest harvesting depended on both disturbance intensity and local population density. Preference for uncut forest stands over harvest treatments with > 50% tree retention quickly diminished as local populations increased. In contrast, preference for uncut forests over treatments with < 20% tree retention became more pronounced with increasing local population density. Similarly, in the first years following harvesting, browse use patterns of white birch (Betula papyrifera) stems in low intensity treatments (> 50% retention) remained similar to those in uncut old-growth forest stands, whereas browse use declined rapidly in intensive harvest treatments (< 20% retention) over the same period. These findings suggest that silvicultural treatments that conserve old-growth forest structure can also maintain distributions of hare that are characteristic of late-succession. This thesis helps to further our understanding of the links between snowshoe hare distribution and regional disturbance regimes in managed boreal forests.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 17 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/22492
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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