FRIP Abstracts

WEYDV-02-035
The Role of Buffer Strips for Maintenance of Terrestrial, Riparian and Aquatic Communities in the Boreal Plains-Part II Post Harvesting Affects
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
L. Morgantini, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, Edmonton, Alberta
In Alberta, there is a unique research opportunity as the forest industry is still in the initial stages of harvesting Alberta’s northern forests. The TROLS project (Terrestrial and Riparian Organisms, Lakes and Streams) examines how riparian buffer strips of differing widths affect plant and animal communities in riparian and aquatic habitats around lakes and streams in northern Alberta.

The research focused around a three-phase experiment. First, a baseline condition for two years of terrestrial, aquatic and hydrological conditions (including fish and wildlife) was established. Second, large areas of the study watersheds were clearcut in an experimental design to leave replicate control areas and areas with buffer strip widths of 0- to 200 metres. Third, the effects on terrestrial, aquatic and hydrological conditions were monitored for three years following harvest. The TROLS project consists of lake and stream components. Twelve experimental lakes were selected in 1993, and in spring 1994, the selection of experimental streams was initiated.

Eleven headwater lakes were monitored for nutrients and plankton two years before and two years after variable watershed harvesting. There was no evidence that buffer strip width (ie. 20m, 100m, 200m) influenced lake response. The results suggest that activities within the entire watershed should be the focus of catchment-lake interactions. The TROLS project is ongoing. Updates are available on the TROLS website at www.biology.ualberta.ca/trols/trolweb.html.
WEYDV-02-036
Inventory of Bat Species
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Heidi Lippert, Masters student, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Forest management practices may impact bat species both positively, through development of forage areas and negatively, through loss of roosting habitat. However, little landscape scale research has been done in Alberta to examine these potential impacts. The objectives of the research were to contribute to existing baseline information regarding the presence and distribution of bats, explore the relationship of bat diversity and activity to forest composition and potential roost availability, investigate effects of structure retention in cutblocks on bat activity at pond sites, and provide recommendations to forest managers regarding conservation of bat populations.

During the summers of 1998 and 1999, the researcher examined bat activity in west-central Alberta in three forest types, and in areas where standing structure was retained following harvest. All seven forest bat species expected to occur in west-central Alberta were verified by ultrasonic and capture techniques.

Results from this study show that narrow seismic lines running through mature aspen-, pine-, and spruce-dominated forest provide commuting habitat for all bat species and species aggregates. In addition, the amount of structure retained in a cutblock did not affect bat activity at pond sites. The study revealed a low abundance of ideal roost structures across forest types in mature forest stands. The recruitment of these structures, which are essential to the reproductive success of many forest bat species, is also limited. Standing dead trees and live recruitment trees should be retained to conserve bat populations.
WEYDV-02-037
Quantification of the Distribution of Burned Areas, and Their Use by Birds, in a Boreal Mixedwood Forest, Immediately Following Fire
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
F. Schmiegelow, PhD, University of Alberta, Edmonton
The landscapes resulting from the forest fires that burned in Alberta in spring 1998 provided an ideal opportunity to learn more about patterns of natural disturbance, and their affect on wildlife use. In particular, there was potential to examine the effects of post-fire salvage operations on wildlife use, and provide an empirical basis for management of residual material in harvested stands. The Chip Lake burn in the Weyerhaeuser Edson Forest Management Agreement area was a good candidate for this work. Birds were the primary study species for preliminary work given their suitability as indicators of forest conditions.

Study sites were grouped as deciduous-dominated or coniferous-dominated, and either burned or unburned. All sites contained stands of 1900s origin or earlier. For songbird surveys, 109 point count stations were established. The station surveys were conducted during June and early July 1998. Call playback stations were established at 12 sites in burned and unburned stands to carry out woodpecker surveys.

A total of 1,224 observations, representing 55 species, were recorded during point count surveys. The ten most common species accounted for 64% of all records, indicating a skewed abundance distribution, common to other boreal forest bird communities. Overall, 12 species were recorded in burned areas only, whereas only five were unique to unburned sites. With the exception of one Black Backed Woodpecker (BBWO), there were no responses to woodpecker playbacks. BBWO’s were observed and heard on several occasions during point counts. They are present and nesting in the area. Although there were no substantial differences in the bird community composition and structure at this early stage, it is expected that subsequent changes in the vegetation structure in these areas, due to delayed mortality, will lead to related changes in the bird community. The preliminary work conducted in the Chip Lake burn in 1998, immediately post-fire, provides an important baseline for future work in this area.
WEYDV-02-038
CFS Understory Planting Re-measurement and Analysis
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Dave Kent, Weyerhaeuser, Edson, Alberta
Weyerhaeuser, Edson and Drayton Valley operations have adopted a management strategy of underplanting aspen stands with white spruce seedlings. This project is a review and synthesis of information and data related to the understory planting of white spruce in aspen stands. The research review focused on stand level growth and yield gains, biological and silviculture efficacy and limitations, conceptual stand dynamics and development, growth and yield trajectories, and design of silvicultural and harvesting options.

The results of the project are summarized in the final report “Underplanting Aspen Stands with White Spruce: Rationale, Strategies and Interpretations of Historical Trials in Alberta.” The report details ecological principles, risk management, management implications and opportunities, silvicultural considerations and methods, and yield estimates for management strategies. It also includes a review and analysis of Canadian Forest Service understory planting trials, as well as data from underplanting trials used to generate growth and yield forecasts and associated management practices.
WEYDV-02-042
WESBOGY
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Neil Stevens, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, Alberta
Weyerhaeuser is a member of the Western Boreal Growth and Yield Cooperative (WESBOGY). It is comprised of both forest companies and government agencies. The principal objectives of the WESBOGY Cooperative is to develop and implement a research program dedicated to the study of growth and yield specific to the interest of cooperative members, the study of mixedwood aspen and white spruce stands growing in the boreal forest, and increasing knowledge and awareness of growth and yield relationships as they exist in western and northern Canada. Persons interested in learning about WESBOGY projects and current membership are directed to the WESBOGY website at http://www.wesbogy.rr.ualberta.ca/.
WEYDV-02-043
Post-Fire Colonization and Use of Burned and Salvaged Areas by Boreal Birds in a Mixedwood Forest
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
David Stepnisky and Curtis Stambaugh, Masters students, University of Alberta, Edmonton
The project took place in the Chip Lake fire area located north of Edson, Alberta. The fire offered an opportunity to explore the impact of wildfire, and subsequent salvage harvesting on boreal birds. The project was comprised of two separate studies; the Stambaugh study monitored the forest bird community over the first three years (1999-2001) following the wildfire, the Stepnisky studied the effects of salvage harvesting on Picoides woodpecker ecology.

Each study focused on upland, deciduous-dominated mature stand types. The design included sites within burned/harvested (Salvage), burned/not harvested (Leave) and unburned/not harvested (Control). The field data was collected using widely accepted sampling methods. The analyzed data supports the findings presented below.

Leave stands typically had a greater abundance of woodpeckers and songbirds than burned/harvested stands. By the second and third year post-fire, measures of songbird abundance and species richness were significantly higher within Leave treatments. Similarity indices identified moderate overlap in bird communities between Leave and Control treatments, and suggested increased similarity over time. Whereas divergence in similarity was found for bird communities in Salvage and Control sites. Leave sites had significantly greater numbers of woodpeckers, potential prey (bark and boring beetles), and potential nesting sites (deciduous snags). Within Leave sites, woodpeckers were most abundant in winter months compared to the breeding season, and declined annually over time in years following the fire. Woodpecker abundance, potential prey abundance, and available nesting sites all varied with burn severity. The study suggests that areas of recently burned older forest should be maintained on the landscape to provide habitat for post-fire species.
WEYDV-02-044
Nocturnal Raptor Monitoring Project – Drayton Valley - 1999
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Roger Brown, Aspen Ecological Consulting, Edmonton, Alberta
There are 13 species of owls recorded in Alberta, nine of which are known to breed in a forested habitat. All nine species of forest dwelling owls are thought to occur in the region defined by Weyerhaeuser’s Drayton Valley Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area. The objectives of this project were to document the occurrence of owls in a wide range of forest types in the FMA, assess relative abundance and distribution of owls in different forest types, and to establish permanent roadside survey routes that could be used in future years for the intent of monitoring owl populations.

Most forest-dwelling owl species can be surveyed effectively in the late winter and early spring using nighttime auditory surveys along roadsides. Nighttime surveys involved stopping at regularly spaced intervals (1.6km), broadcasting taped owl calls and listening for responding owls. Species that are active in the daytime are best surveyed by slowly driving along roadways with the driver and passenger searching from either side of the vehicle. The daylight surveys began two hours before dusk and were used to determine the presence of raptors active in the daytime (these species include hawks, eagles, falcons, accipiters, and some owl species especially Northern Hawk Owls, Northern Pygmy Owls, and Great Gray Owls). Eight permanent roadside survey routes were established within the FMA. Surveys began mid-February and finished at the end of April. All of the survey routes were sampled twice with the exception of one.

Adjusting for the double-counting of owls, there were 71 owls identified at 96 stops. Species not detected were the Short-eared owl, which usually breeds in tall grass prairie habitats, and tends to avoid continuously forest regions, and the Northern Hawk-Owl. The Northern Saw-whet Owl was the most frequently counted owl (23), with the Boreal Owl a close second (21). The Barred Owl and the Great-horned Owl were each counted 12 times, and the Long-eared Owl was only counted three times. During the daytime, the Great Gray owl was counted twice (a pair observed) and the Northern Pygmy owl was only counted once. The total number in this study were substantially lower than the “sister study” conducted at the same time in the Slave Lake FMA. To determine abundance and distribution of owls in different forest types, the habitat within an 800-metre radius of each stop was characterized using AVI forest cover maps. There were no significant relationships identified between the habitat variables and owl species. The lack of relationship suggested that the sampling method was inadequate for the purposes of determining habitat preferences, and not an indication that habitat preferences do not exist. The sample sizes recommended to confirm population changes in most species in the FMA are significantly larger than what was sampled in the 1999. Recommended changes to future owl survey methods are made in the full report.
WEYDV-02-045
Nocturnal Raptor Monitoring Project - Slave Lake - 1999
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Roger Brown, Aspen Ecological Consulting, Edmonton, Alberta
There are 13 species of owls recorded in Alberta, nine of which are known to breed in a forested habitat. All nine species of forest dwelling owls are thought to occur in the region defined by Weyerhaeuser’s Slave Lake Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area. The objectives of this project were to document the occurrence of owls in a wide range of forest types in the FMA, assess relative abundance and distribution of owls in different forest types, and establish permanent roadside survey routes that could be used in future years for the intent of monitoring owl populations.

Most forest-dwelling owl species can be surveyed effectively in the late winter and early spring using nighttime auditory surveys along roadsides. Nighttime surveys involved stopping at regularly spaced intervals (1.6km), broadcasting taped owl calls and listening for responding owls. Species that are active in the daytime are best surveyed by slowly driving along roadways with the driver and passenger searching from either side of the vehicle. The daylight surveys began two hours before dusk and were used to determine the presence of raptors active in the daytime (these species include hawks, eagles, falcons, accipiters, and some owl species especially Northern Hawk Owls, Northern Pygmy Owls, and Great Gray Owls). Eight permanent roadside survey routes were established within the FMA. Surveys began mid-February and finished at the end of April. All of the survey routes were sampled twice with the exception of one.

After adjusting for the double counting of owls, a total of 146 owls were identified at 107 stops. The only species that was not detected was the Short-eared owl, which usually breeds in tall grass prairie habitats, and tends to avoid continuously forest regions. The Northern Saw-whet Owl was the most frequently counted owl (54), with the Boreal Owl a close second (52). The Barred Owl was counted 22 times and the Great-horned Owl was counted 15 times. All other owls were rare, with the Great Gray Owl, Long-eared Owl, and the Northern Pygmy-Owl counted only once. To determine abundance and distribution of owls in different forest types the habitat within an 800-metre radius of each stop was characterized using AVI forest cover maps. There were no significant relationships identified between the habitat variables and owl species. The lack of relationship suggested that the sampling method was inadequate for the purposes of determining habitat preferences, and not an indication that habitat preferences do not exist. The sample sizes recommended to confirm population changes in most species in the FMA are significantly larger than what was sampled in 1999. Recommended changes to future owl survey methods are made in the full report.
WEYDV-02-054
A Review of Available Information on Wildlife for Weyerhaeuser's Edson FMA
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Bighorn Environmental Design Ltd., Hinton, Alberta
This research was intended to improve the understanding of the forest, and consequently contribute to the general understanding of various wildlife species within Weyerhaeuser’s Edson Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area. The objective of this project was to identify all relevant reports and studies, and to provide the reader with an awareness of the quantity, quality and general sources of information available.
The final report provides a summary and bibliography of the wildlife resources applicable to the FMA.
WEYDV-02-055
Effects of Partial-Cutting on Migratory Songbirds Breeding in Alberta's Boreal Mixed-Wood Forest
Sponsor:
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited
Lead Researcher:
Rebecca Tittler, Masters student, University of Alberta, Edmonton
This project is a continuation of a short-term project that studied the effects of partial-cutting on migratory breeding songbirds in Weyerhaeuser’s Slave Lake Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area between 1994 and 1995. Research from the original study focused on the first year after harvest. As a continuation, the new study looks at the effects of partial-cutting on bird species richness and abundance three years after harvest. The researcher examines the influence of varying levels of residual tree retention on forest and open-area songbird abundances, and the effects of residual tree retention on nest predation in and adjacent to harvested sites.

Birds were censused at 12 sites in 1994 and 1995 and at 18 sites in 1997. In the winter of 1994-95, 9 of the 12 and 12 of the 18 sites were logged while the remaining sites were left forested and served as a control. All sites were aspen-dominated, mixed-wood stands greater than 130 years old prior to harvest. The sites were between 10 and 35 ha in size with residual densities ranging from 10 to 133 trees/ha.

Forest songbirds were found to be more abundant in forested sites as opposed to logged sites in the two years following harvest. There were few differences among forest species between sites with varying densities of residual trees, and nest predation did not differ among sites or stands adjacent to sites with varying densities of residual trees. In the third year post-logging, the majority of forest songbirds were found to not be affected by the density of residual trees within the range measured.

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