Effects of precommercial thinning on snowshoe hare habitat use during winter in low-elevation montane forests

  • Published source details Ausband D.E. & Baty G.R. (2005) Effects of precommercial thinning on snowshoe hare habitat use during winter in low-elevation montane forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 35, 206-210.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Retain undisturbed patches during thinning operations

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Retain undisturbed patches during thinning operations

    A randomized, replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2001–2003 of a coniferous forest in Montana, USA (Ausband & Baty 2005) found that snowshoe hares Lepus americanus used retained undisturbed patches more than they used thinned forest. More hare tracks were counted in undisturbed patches than in thinned areas when patches comprised 8% (undisturbed: 106; thinned: 25 tracks/km) and 35% (undisturbed: 107; thinned: 15 tracks/km) of the stand. The same was found for faecal pellet counts in 8% (undisturbed: 1.0; thinned: 0.2 pellets/tray) and 35% (undisturbed: 1.4; thinned: 0.1 pellets/tray) retention patches. After treatments were applied, hares increased use of undisturbed (before treatment: 29; after: 144 tracks/km) and mature (before treatment: 64–80; after: 88–181 tracks/km) stands, suggesting movements into these areas. Five conifer stands (10.5–14.0 ha), regenerating naturally after felling in 1985, were selected. Treatments were applied in June 2002 and comprised: thinning with five 0.2-ha unthinned patches (8%) retained (two stands), thinning with five 0.8-ha unthinned patches (35%) retained (two stands) and one undisturbed stand. Conifer density was 5,350–7,050/ha before and 656–750/ha after thinning. Two adjacent mature stands represented pre-harvest conditions. Hare-track density was assessed from December–March in 2001–2002 (prior to thinning) and 2002–2003 (after thinning). Faecal pellets were surveyed each winter within 50 trays in each stand, into which pellets accumulated during April snowmelt.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

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