Data from: Assessing cumulative impacts of forest development on the distribution of furbearers using expert-based habitat modeling
Bridger, M. C.; Johnson, C. J.; Gillingham, M. P. (2015), Data from: Assessing cumulative impacts of forest development on the distribution of furbearers using expert-based habitat modeling, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pn795
Cumulative impacts of anthropogenic landscape change must be considered when managing and conserving wildlife habitat. Across the central-interior of British Columbia, Canada, industrial activities are altering the habitat of furbearer species. This region has witnessed unprecedented levels of anthropogenic landscape change following rapid development in a number of resource sectors, particularly forestry. Our objective was to create expert-based habitat models for three furbearer species: fisher (Pekania pennanti), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and American marten (Martes americana) and quantify habitat change for those species. We recruited 10 biologist and 10 trapper experts and then used the analytical hierarchy process to elicit expert knowledge of habitat variables important to each species. We applied the models to reference landscapes (i.e., registered traplines) in two distinct study areas and then quantified the change in habitat availability from 1990 to 2013. There was strong agreement between expert groups in the choice of habitat variables and associated scores. Where anthropogenic impacts had increased considerably over the study period, the habitat models showed substantial declines in habitat availability for each focal species (78% decline in optimal fisher habitat, 83% decline in optimal lynx habitat, and 79% decline in optimal marten habitat). For those traplines with relatively little forest harvesting, the habitat models showed no substantial change in the availability of habitat over time. The results suggest that habitat for these three furbearer species declined significantly as a result of the cumulative impacts of forest harvesting. Results of this study illustrate the utility of expert knowledge for understanding large-scale patterns of habitat change over long time periods.