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Conservation and ecology of bryophytes in partially harvested boreal mixed-wood forests of west-central Canada Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Caners, Richard T.
Supervisor and department
Macdonald, S. Ellen (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Gignac, Dennis L. (Biological Sciences)
Dale, Mark R. T. (Biological Sciences)
Söderström, Lars (Biology)
Belland, René J. (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis examined the efficacy of residual forest structure for the preservation and recovery of bryophytes five to six years after partial canopy harvest in boreal mixed-wood forests of northwestern Alberta, Canada. Bryophytes were sampled in two forest types that differed in pre-harvest abundance of broadleaf (primarily Populus tremuloides Michx. and P. balsamifera L.) and coniferous (primarily Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) canopy trees. In Chapter 2, epiphytic bryophytes growing on aspen (P. tremuloides) were characterized by species viability and nearest-neighbour relationships. Epiphyte assemblage structure showed increasing impact with declining retention owing to degradation of growing conditions for species on trees. Chapter 3 provided an analysis of species richness and abundance patterns in relation to residual canopy structure. Bryophytes generally benefitted from higher canopy retention; however, epixylic and epiphytic species were more sensitive to partial harvesting than species on other substrates, and liverworts were more sensitive than mosses. Liverworts exhibited higher among-site differences in richness as retention declined, which partly resulted from increasing numbers of local species extinctions. In an analysis of species-environment relations in partially-harvested forests in Chapter 4, forest moisture was reduced with any degree of harvesting in both forest types. Lower canopy retention and forest moisture levels were associated with reduced abundances of species with particular biological traits, such as limited reproduction and dispersal capacities. Their re-establishment after harvesting may be impeded because of biological and environmental limitations. Coniferous-dominated forests supported higher abundances of liverworts and species with greater moisture requirements than did mixed-wood broadleaf-coniferous forests, and are potentially important refuges of bryophyte source populations. Chapter 5 examined the capacity for bryophyte species to germinate from diaspore banks in forest soils. Species germinated readily from mineral soil samples obtained from harvested sites, including several perennials characteristic of intact forests. Diaspore banks may serve as a persistent source for species colonization at post-disturbance sites, but only under appropriate growing conditions and not for species that were most sensitive to harvesting. Overall, both amount and composition of forest structure retained after partial harvesting are important management considerations for ensuring conservation of the wide variety of bryophyte species in mixed-wood landscapes.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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