Are the declining trends in forest grouse populations due to changes in the forest age structure? A case study of Capercaillie in Finland
Sirkia, Saija; Linden, Andreas; Helle, Pekka; Nikula, Ari; Knape, Jonas; Linden, Harto
In Finland, Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) populations have a history of serious decrease starting from the mid-20th century. The decline is temporally in line with the expansion of modern forestry practices that created major changes in the landscape. We used tetraonid route-censuses from 18 forestry board districts and Finnish forest inventories (data on forest stand structure) to analyze the decline in 1965-1988. We used information theoretical model selection to evaluate a set of log-linear second order auto-regressive models, allowing for spatially correlated process errors. The average trend throughout the country corresponded to an annual decline of 4.01% (mean of local trends) +/- 0.24% (SEM), parallel to a half-life of 17 years. The decline was surprisingly uniform throughout the country (SD = 1.01%) and most parsimoniously explained by a geographically constant log-linear trend. At the large scale of observation applied here, population trends could not be explained by the proportional increase of younger forest age classes (<40 years old and <80 years old, respectively). Our analysis does not support the hypothesis that the decline in Capercaillie numbers is due to changes in the forest age structure, but we cannot exclude the possibility that other factors behind the decline may have interacted with forestry in general. From a conservation point of view, we caution against over-emphasizing the role of forest age especially at large spatial scales, but leaning also on other research, we recommend that more management efforts would go into the preservation of the overall forest cover and the original physiognomy in single forest patches. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Forestry; Grouse; Spatial population dynamics; Tetrao urogallus; Time series analysis
2010, Volym: 143, nummer: 6, sidor: 1540-1548
Utgivare: ELSEVIER SCI LTD
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