American marten respond to seismic lines in northern Canada at two spatial scales

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Abstract

Copyright: © 2015 Tigner et al. Development of hydrocarbon resources across northwest Canada has spurred economic prosperity and generated concerns over impacts to biodiversity. To balance these interests, numerous jurisdictions have adopted management thresholds that allow for limited energy development but minimize undesirable impacts to wildlife. Used for exploration, seismic lines are the most abundant linear feature in the boreal forest and exist at a variety of widths and recovery states. We used American marten (Martes americana) as a model species to measure how line attributes influence species' response to seismic lines, and asked whether responses to individual lines trigger population impacts. Marten response to seismic lines was strongly influenced by line width and recovery state. Compared to forest interiors, marten used open seismic lines ≥ 3 m wide less often, but used open lines ≤ 2 m wide and partially recovered lines ≥ 6 m wide similarly. Marten response to individual line types appeared to trigger population impacts. The probability of occurrence at the home range scale declined with increasing seismic line density, and the inclusion of behavioral response to line density calculations improved model fit. In our top performing model, we excluded seismic lines ≤ 2 m from our calculation of line density, and the probability of occurrence declined > 80% between home ranges with the lowest and highest line densities. Models that excluded seismic lines did not strongly explain occurrence. We show how wildlife-derived metrics can inform regulatory guidelines to increase the likelihood those guidelines meet intended management objectives. With respect to marten, not all seismic lines constitute disturbances, but avoidance of certain line types scales to population impacts. This approach provides the ecological context required to understand cause and effect relationships among socio-economic and ecological conservation goals.

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Tigner, J., Bayne, E. M., & Boutin, S. (2015). American marten respond to seismic lines in northern Canada at two spatial scales. PLoS ONE, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118720

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