Selection of Vertebrate Wildlife Indicators For Monitoring Sustainable Forest Management in Ontario

Margaret A. McLaren, Ian D. Thompson, James A. Baker
The Forestry Chronicle, 1998, 74(2): 241-248, 10.5558/tfc74241-2

Part of a recently advocated method of sustainable forest development employs indicator species as fine filters to assess changes within ecosystems and landscapes. Researchers used a series of criteria based on biology, sampling methods, and legal or particular status to select vertebrate indicator species for the province of Ontario. The criteria for selection were applied in a hierarchical manner, with species ecology given primary importance, followed by sampling considerations, and status criteria. The latter represented certain societal weightings and political or featured management concerns. Species fitting the selection criteria were placed in a four-dimensional matrix (with axes: broad habitat type, age class, trophic level, and spatial scale), and species were then chosen from among the matrix cells. The exercise reduced the total vertebrate species in two forest biomes (Boreal and Great-Lakes St. Lawrence) to a relative few, from which the final choices were made primarily based on expert opinion. In Ontario, the species selected as indicators of biological diversity in the future will be used to test the underlying general hypothesis that forest management has no effect on species richness and species abundance, or the distribution of species in time and space.

This is an important and timely study with regard to preserving biodiversity in Ontario Forests with active logging as part of the management mix.