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Maintaining wildlife habitat in southeastern Alaska: implications of new knowledge for forest management and research.




Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Northwest Research Station


Landscape and Urban Planning. 72: 113-133


We review results and implications from recent wildlife studies that followed from the 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) and identify information needs and directions for research, development, and application. Sustained population viability of wildlife species was identified as a major issue in the TLMP planning process. Several species were identified as management indicator species, and research was conducted to determine their potential sensitivity to forest management. Southeastern Alaska was found to be a region with an especially high degree of endemism in its small mammal fauna, principally because of the combination of its archipelago geography combined with highly dynamic glacial history. Two species of endemic small mammals selected for demographic study, however, appeared to be less dependent on old-growth forests than had been suspected at the time TLMP was written: the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) because of relatively high suitability of noncommercial, low-volume, mixed-conifer forest; and the southern red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi) because of relatively high suitability of precommercially thinned young-growth forest. The northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) was found to be problematic for "management indicator" status because of logistical difficulties involved in monitoring this relatively rare, highly mobile species that frequently changes nest sites. Sampling protocols were developed for marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), although murrelet populations do not appear to be in trouble on the Tongass. The conservation strategy of TLMP for American marten (Martes americana) appeared to be sound on Chichagof Island where marten have been studied intensively, but implications for the rest of southeastern Alaska were unclear without further work. Studies of the Alexander Archipelago wolf (Cants lupus ligoni) indicated that population density of black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and road access (to wolf hunters) were the predominant factors affecting wolf productivity and mortality, respectively. Finally, studies of bird community response to. timber-harvest alternatives to clearcutting indicated that although creation of forest "edge" may increase nest predation rates, the actual response depends on a broad array of factors and is highly variable. We suggest that research, development, and application focus on plant and animal communities and management of vegetation to achieve specific objectives for wildlife habitat.

We suggest that such efforts emphasize silviculture of second-growth forests, understanding old-growth reserves, distribution of endemic small mammals, and alternatives to clearcutting. Models for evaluating black-tailed deer habitat and populations are needed for subsistence-hunting management, and some work needs to be directed at interactions between tourism and selected wildlife species.


Hanley, Thomas A.; Smith, Winston P.; Gende, Scott M. 2005. Maintaining wildlife habitat in southeastern Alaska: implications of new knowledge for forest management and research. Landscape and Urban Planning. 72: 113-133

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