Effects of local and regional landscape characteristics on wildlife distribution across managed forests

Journal or Book Title: Forest Ecology and Management

Volume/Issue: 259

Page Number(s): 1102-1110

Year Published: 2010


Understanding the impacts of local and regional landscape characteristics on spatial distributions of wildlife species is vital for achieving ecological and economic sustainability of forested landscapes. This understanding is important because wildlife species such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have the potential to affect forest dynamics differently across space. Here, we quantify the effects of local and regional landscape characteristics on the spatial distribution of white-tailed deer, produce maps of estimated deer density using these quantified relationships, provide measures of uncertainty for these maps to aid interpretation, and show how this information can be used to guide co-management of deer and forests. Specifically, we use ordinary least squares and Bayesian regression methods to model the spatial distribution of white-tailed deer in northern hardwood stands during the winter in the managed hardwood-conifer forests of the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA. Our results show that deer density is higher nearer lowland conifer stands and in areas where northern hardwood trees have small mean diameter-at-breast-height. Other factors related with deer density include mean northern hardwood basal area (negative relationship), proportion of lowland conifer forest cover (positive relationship), and mean daily snow depth (negative relationship). The modeling methods we present provide a means to identify locations in forest landscapes where wildlife and forestmanagers may most effectively co-ordinate their actions.

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.12.020

Type of Publication: Journal Article