Species traits as clues for who will win or lose: Large mammal responses to landscape change

Resource extraction has caused extensive landscape change that impacts wildlife. This is especially true in Alberta, Canada, where forestry, oil and gas and similar industries stretch across the province. While these industries are known to negatively affect some wildlife species, other species benefit from the features that these industries introduce, such as roads. In consequence, wildlife communities in human-modified landscapes consist of ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ species. Though this pattern is consistent across the province, the mechanisms that cause mammal species to experience either positive or negative impacts are unclear, which makes conservation difficult. However, ecological theory suggests that species’ characteristics, such as diet, determine how they respond. Using motion-activated camera traps to survey wildlife, this project will examine whether species’ characteristics explain whether species ‘win’ or ‘lose’ in human-modified landscapes. This will provide a better understanding of how landscape change impacts wildlife, which will also help wildlife and economically important industries coexist.

Macgregor Aubertin-Young
Faculty Supervisor: 
Jason T Fisher
British Columbia
Partner University: