Author: Dubman, Evgenia
The cumulative ecological impacts of broad-scale anthropogenic disturbances, such as forestry or energy development, are a challenge to predict and evaluate. Here, I evaluate the potential of future run-of-river (ROR) hydropower development to impact riparian ecosystems in British Columbia, Canada. I found the projected spatial footprint of ROR in the riparian zone to be 40 times smaller than the footprint of existing disturbance from forestry, roads, and powerlines, but concentrated in watersheds that currently have low levels of disturbance. Habitat degradation for small riparian vertebrates from ROR development was cumulative with substantial existing impacts. I also tested whether harvest data in Species Distribution Models can aid in evaluating species responses to logging at different scales and sensitivity levels using a simulation framework. I found that logging becomes a strong predictor of species distributions at landscape scales, or when the spatial heterogeneity of forestry exceeds that of other variables (e.g. climatic or topographical) in the model.
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Thesis advisor: Palen, Wendy
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