Aspen Bibliography

Use of track transects to measure the relative occurrence of some boreal mammals in uncut forest and regeneration stands

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Canadian Journal of Zoology





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Tracks of marten (Martes americana), lynx (Felis lynx), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), ermine (Mustela erminea), snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), and red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) were censused from 1980 to 1985 on 1-km transects in uncut stands and on eight sites that had been clear-cut between 1 and 33 years ago, in boreal mixedwood habitat near Manitouwadge, Ontario. Marten tracks were more common in uncut areas than in younger stands. Lynx tracks were most abundant on sites that were logged 20–30 years ago and were absent in uncut areas and stands less than 5 years old. Counts of red fox tracks were lowest in uncut stands and showed no consistent pattern among years of our survey with respect to stand age in second-growth forest. Hare tracks were most abundant in 20- and 30-year-old stands, and least abundant in stands less than 5 years old. Red squirrels were most common in uncut areas, but similar high values were also found in 20- and 30-year-old sites during 3 years when populations in the area were depressed. No selection of stands by age was seen for ermine. Numbers of tracks were significantly correlated with live captures of marten, hare, and red squirrels. Our results suggested that track abundance can be used as an index of habitat preferences and population trends. Highest counts were achieved in December for marten, red squirrel, and ermine, likely as a result of several types of over-winter mortality and inactivity in cold weather, which may have reduced counts in January and March. As a result of high and nonhomogeneous variance among transects and years, nonparametric statistical analysis was required. Transect length for fox and lynx should be substantially longer than 1 km (probably 3–5 km) to avoid numerous zero results.