Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012, Article ID 593103, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/593103
Research Article

Silviculture and Wildlife: Snowshoe Hare Abundance across a Successional Sequence of Natural and Intensively Managed Forests

1Department of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, The University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
2Applied Mammal Research Institute, 11010 Mitchell Avenue, Summerland, BC, Canada V0H 1Z8

Received 20 January 2012; Accepted 7 February 2012

Academic Editors: P. Borges and T. Nagaike

Copyright © 2012 Thomas P. Sullivan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We tested the hypotheses H1 that relative habitat use by snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) would have a bimodal distribution with the highest abundance in young lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) stands (both managed and unmanaged), minimal numbers in mature forests, and moderate abundance in old-growth forests and H2 that habitat use would increase in response to enhanced stand attributes from PCT (precommercial thinning) and fertilization treatments. Habitat use was measured by counts of fecal pellets of hares from 1999 to 2003 in forest stands in south-central British Columbia, Canada. Our results did not support the bimodal distribution of hares among coniferous stands, such that old-growth stands, at least in our region, do not provide sufficient habitat for hare populations. High-density (5000 to 13000 stems/ha) unthinned young lodgepole pine stands provide optimum habitat for hares in terms of overstory and stand structure. Thinned and fertilized stands may also provide habitat, particularly at densities ≤1000 stems/ha, and over time as understory conifers develop. Managed stands provided habitat for hares at the same level as mature stands, at 6–10 years after PCT. Maintenance of a range of managed and unmanaged stands in a landscape mosaic would be ideal for integration of silvicultural and wildlife management goals.