UBC Undergraduate Research

Evaluation of bioindicators and structural attributes as indicators of old-growth forests Anderson, Meghan


There is a lack of practical and accurate tools for identifying old-growth forests that are of important conservation value. In order to achieve more accurate methods for identifying old-growth forests, species and structural attributes of forests have been suggested as indicators. To assess which indicators among those commonly used for old-growth may be most practical and applicable a system of evaluating the indicators based on biological traits and current research was done. Species evaluated were saproxylic beetles, wood-inhabiting fungi, bryophytes and lichen. Structural attributes evaluated were dead wood measured, wildlife values, diameter at breast height (DBH), tree density and basal area. Indicators were evaluated on the basis of 15 criteria. None of the indicators were able to fulfill all criteria. The indicators that were able to fulfill most criteria were saproxylic beetles and lichen (67%) followed by structural indicators (64%). Evaluation of indicators suggests that saproxylic beetles and lichen used in concert may more suitable indicators for indicating old-growth forests, where as structural indicators may be less suitable but a more practical method. However, species indicators are unreliable and more research is required to determine their accuracy and improve their reliability.

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