Forest management for multiple ecological services


Understanding how forest management activities at different spatial and temporal scales interfere with ecological processes to influence the supply of ecological services is one of the most important challenge of forest management. With a group of collaborators we are building a decision support system that will evaluate the feasibility of managing Quebec’s forests for services beyond timber production. This system is coupling two models. A model that computes the annual allowable cut by optimizing for multiple services (timber production, carbon sequestration, habitat for biodiversity, etc.) in Woodstock, and a spatially explicit model of forest dynamics (Vermillon Landscape Model, SELES) that simulates harvesting together with forest growth and natural disturbances. The integrated system is being tested on three different management units along a South-North gradient of different social, economic and environmental conditions. It will help tackle the following questions:

  • What are the trade-offs and benefits between different services?
  • How do trade-offs and benefits vary along the South-North gradient?
  • How do natural disturbances impact these trade-offs and benefits?
  • Can a management strategy that optimizes the yield of multiple services act as a protection against the uncertainties associated with natural disturbances and climate change ?

People working on this project:
PIs: Frédéric Raulier (U. Laval), Mathieu Bouchard (MFFP), Christian Messier (UQAM/UQO), Frédérick Doyon (UQO), Osvaldo Valeria (UQAT).

TraineesRebecca Tittler (PDF UQAM/TÉLUQ, supervised by Filotas and Messier), Caroline Gagné (PhD candidate UQAM, supervised by Filotas and Messier), Hakim Ouzennou (Research assistant U. Laval, supervised by Raulier), David Laginha Pinto Correia (PhD candidate U. Laval, supervised by Raulier, Bouchard and Filotas), Romain Trégaro (MSc student UQO, supervised by Doyon and Valeria).

Spatial network approaches to biodiversity conservation


Spatial networks are increasingly being used to characterize the structural and functional consequences of landscape fragmentation on biodiversity. We employ spatial networks in a forest management context to determine how differences in the spatial distributions of logging activities impact habitat connectivity for wildlife species. In particular, we investigate how partial cuts, a practice usually deemed favorable for forest biodiversity at the stand-scale, may have negative impacts at the landscape-scale.

People working on this project: PDF Rebecca Tittler (Concordia), Christian Messier (UQAM/UQO).

We also employ spatial networks to extend the concept of functional response diversity from the community- to the metacommunity-level. Functional response diversity has been used as a proxy to quantify ecological resilience, given the ability of multi-trait indices to detect community-level responses to a range of disturbances. We employ a spatial network approach to assess whether tree seed dispersal in fragmented forests can buffer a decrease in functional response diversity caused by fragmentation.

People working on this project: Dylan Craven (iDiv/U. Leipzig), Christian Messier (UQAM/UQO).

Population dynamics of forest insect pests


Populations of insect herbivores generally vary as a function of both the abundance of plant resources and of natural enemies. At the landscape scale, spatial heterogeneity in plant resources may alter the strength of these bottom-up and top-down impacts by supporting different herbivores acting as alternative preys or hosts for generalist natural enemies. We are varying the proportion of two different forest covers in a landscape to study the effect of heterogeneity in plant resources on the dynamics of two herbivore food chains linked by a generalist predator. We use a system of coupled tri-trophic differential equations and ask the following questions: What is the effect of the relative strength of predation on the dynamics of the two herbivores? Does controlling the proportion of each forest cover in the landscape (by management interventions, for example) stabilize the dynamics of an otherwise unstable insect herbivore?

People working on this project: Patrick James (U. Montreal), Vlastimil Krivan (Czech Academy of Sciences).