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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Right place, right time : large mammal spatiotemporal trends in and around a heavily recreated protected area Procko, Michael


The dual-mandate for protected areas (PAs) to simultaneously promote recreation and conserve biodiversity may be hampered by negative effects of recreation on wildlife. However, reports of these effects are inconsistent, presenting a knowledge gap that hinders evidence-based decision making. To narrow this gap, I used camera traps to monitor human activity and terrestrial mammals in an exurban PA and an adjacent research forest, with the objective of discerning impacts of human activity on the habitat use and diel activity patterns of cougars (Puma concolor), black bears (Ursus americanus), black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus), snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), coyotes (Canis latrans), and bobcats (Lynx rufus). I then used Bayesian models to assess how wildlife and humans share space and time. First, I investigated whether recreationists and motorized vehicles displaced these focal species at the weekly temporal scale. I found that hikers negatively affected bobcat habitat use, whereas vehicles negatively affected black bear habitat use. I then explored how species’ detection rates shifted during an unexpected period of park closure (due to COVID-19). I found increased cougar detection rates when public access was restricted, but subsequent decreases in cougar detection rates and increases in black-tailed deer detection rates upon the park’s reopening. Finally, I investigated how these species’ diel activity patterns were impacted by human pressures. Only black bears shifted to be (moderately) more nocturnal in spaces or times of higher observed human activity, whereas coyotes, snowshoe hares, cougars, and black-tailed deer all altered their diel activities in response to landscape features associated with human activity (e.g., trail or road densities). My results illustrate that wildlife may be displaced by human activity, but this displacement is often species- or activity-dependent and occurs at various spatiotemporal scales. I also provided support for the use of camera traps to simultaneously monitor human and wildlife activities and encourage PA managers to consider whether recreation is negatively impacting conservation goals within their own PAs. I stress that recreation has the potential to offset PA natural resource conservation goals. However, further research is needed to understand the how displacement by recreation might translate to consequences for wildlife populations.

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