Education

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. -Theodore Roosevelt

B&C Fellow - Andrew Crosby

LANDSCAPE-LEVEL EFFECTS OF FOREST BIOFUELS DEVELOPMENT ON WILDLIFE IN THE NORTHERN FOREST REGION

My research assesses the potential effects of a proposed development of a cellulosic biofuels industry in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan on wildlife. This project examines wildlife habitat at the landscape scale, focusing on the composition and arrangement of forest types and ages. Through landscape analysis, we can assess the current status of wildlife species and predict the likely impacts of increased harvest of the forest over the next 20-100 years on these species. To do this we are using habitat models, land-cover data, and wildlife survey records to map the distribution of habitat conditions and wildlife abundance. We will then use LANDIS II, a landscape-level forest growth model. LANDIS II creates maps of future forest conditions in response to growth, disturbances and management activities. We will use these future forest conditions to to forecast change in habitat conditions and evaluate the change likely to occur in the distribution and abundance of important wildlife species.

The species targeted as important in northern Michigan are American black bear (Ursus americanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), fisher (Martes pennanti), American marten (Martes americana), and the breeding bird community. All of the target species chosen have both social and economic value within the region and can act as indicator species for changes in ecological conditions. Breeding birds in particular are excellent for tracking changes in site conditions because they cover a wide range of ecological niches and respond quickly to disturbances. Fisher and marten are furbearing species that depend on mature forests and so can reflect a dramatic decrease in this habitat type. Bear, deer, and grouse are economically and socially important species that respond to timber harvesting activities. 

Cellulosic biofuels are seen by many people as an alternative, sustainable energy source and a boost to forest-based economies throughout North America. The tools created through this research will be applicable to the Great Lakes region. The northern forest region of the eastern and central United States and Canada has significant potential for the development of a biofuels industry. Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to help us conserve wildlife resources.


Andrew Crosby
Michigan State University

 

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt