Forest managers are often tasked with balancing opposing objectives, such as altering forest structure and conserving forest-dwelling animals. Consequently, to develop holistic strategies managers require information on how forest manipulations influence species of conservation concern, particularly those that are federally threatened or endangered. Here, we characterized how differing silvicultural treatments (n=1,293 - forest thinnings; removal of small trees, selection cuts; trees harvested in small patches, and regeneration cuts; clearcuts of nearly all trees) influenced the resource use of a threatened forest carnivore, Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), over a temporal gradient of 1-67 years after treatment. To do this, we used an extensive GPS dataset on 66 Canada lynx (i.e., 164,593 locations) collected during 2004-2015 within the Northern Rocky Mountains, U.S. We used univariate analyses and hurdle regression models to evaluate the spatio-temporal factors influencing lynx use of treatments. Our analyses indicated that Canada lynx used treatments, but there was a consistent cost in that lynx use was low up to ∼10 years after all silvicultural actions. However, cumulative use (in both winter and summer) by lynx reached 50% at ∼20 years after a thinning treatment, whereas it took ∼34-40 years after a selection or regeneration cut. This indicated that Canada lynx used thinnings at a faster rate post-treatment than selection or regeneration cuts, and that lynx used selection and regeneration cuts in a similar fashion over time. Further, we discovered that lynx occupancy and intensity of treatment use was influenced by the composition of forest structure in the surrounding neighborhood. In some instances, the existing forest structure surrounding the treatment and the time since treatment interactively influenced lynx use; a pattern characterizing a spatio-temporal functional response in habitat use. This demonstrated that both the recovery time as well as the spatial context of a particular area are important considerations when implementing different silvicultural treatments for Canada lynx at the landscape scale. For example, if a selection cut was implemented with abundant mature, multi-storied forest (i.e., a preferred habitat by lynx) in the surrounding landscape, lynx would use these treatments less over time than if the neighborhood contained less mature forest. Forest managers can apply our spatio-temporal understandings of how lynx respond to forest silviculture to refine expectations and develop strategies aimed at both forest management and the conservation of Canada lynx.
Holbrook, Joseph D.; Squires, John R.; Bollenbacher, Barry; Graham, Russ; Olson, Lucretia E.; Hanvey, Gary; Jackson, Scott; Lawrence, Rick L. 2018. Spatio-temporal responses of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) to silvicultural treatments in the Northern Rockies, U.S. Forest Ecology and Management. 422: 114-124.