Short-term response of snowshoe hares to western larch restoration and seasonal needle drop

Alexander V. Kumar, James R. Sparks, L. Scott Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Old-growth western larch has been degraded throughout much of its historic range due to extensive timber harvest and fire suppression. We examined the effects of a restoration treatment of western larch on snowshoe hares, a denizen of the boreal forest serving as a focal animal species to indicate the health of the restored ecosystem. We implemented a restoration treatment using “doughnut thinning” to accelerate development of old-growth attributes in larch stands and simultaneously examined the short-term effects on snowshoe hare density, survival, and movement. Although typical forest management activities tend to have adverse effects on hares especially in the short term, we found that the restoration treatment did not affect hare density or survival in the short term. In addition, despite significant decreases in cover coinciding with the larch needle drop, we found evidence of year-round immigration into larch stands by hares suggesting larch stands are suitable year-round hare habitat. Taken together, our findings suggest that a larch restoration treatment designed to accelerate the development of old-growth attributes can be implemented so as to have no measurable short-term detrimental effects on hares.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • habitat
  • Larix occidentalis
  • Lepus americanus
  • movement
  • restoration treatment
  • SECR

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