Small mammal population ecology
About the Project
Small mammals represent an important component of forest ecosystems, and as changes in the abundances of small mammal species can provide biological indicators of ecosystem integrity, they can be used to monitor responses to large scale environmental changes, such as climate change. Studies quantifying small mammal populations in undisturbed and relatively intact tracts of forest can also be used as a baseline for assessing the impacts of various land use practices.
The abundances of several small mammal species have been monitored in Algonquin Provincial Park since 1952, representing the longest running study of forest small mammals in North America. The long-term objectives for studying small mammal populations in Algonquin Provincial Park are as follows:
- To monitor seasonal and annual patterns of occurrence as well as relative abundance of the species of small mammals that occur in the major forest habitats of Algonquin Park.
- To identify possible intrinsic or environmental causes for fluctuations in small mammal abundance.
- To provide the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) with the indices and forecasts to help with the management of fur-bearing predators of small mammals, to assist in habitat assessment, and to help understand the impacts of climate change.
- To collect baseline data for assessing the impact of varying forest management practices on small mammal populations.
- To facilitate a greater understanding of the interactions among trophic levels in the forest habitats of the Algonquin region.