B.Sc. (UBC), M.Sc. (Dalhousie)
Terrestrial invertebrate communities are also being studied as a component of the Riparian Management Project at the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. Invertebrates constitute a large portion of British Columbia’s biodiversity and include groups such as insects, spiders and arthropods (beetles, crickets, centipedes and millipedes). Invertebrates decompose fallen trees and leaf litter and are an important link in the food web as a food source for birds and amphibians. These key roles, combined with high species numbers, low dispersal distances, and short lifecycles, may make invertebrates excellent indicators of ecosystem conditions.
When trees are removed from around a stream there may be increased exposure to sunlight, warmer temperatures and altered hydrology. These habitat alterations may affect invertebrate communities in these riparian areas. Monitoring changes in the invertebrate communities in relation to harvesting practices around streams will provide important information for determining the health of the resulting ecosystem, and how quickly it recovers.
In the past two years pitfall traps (plastic cups placed flush with the ground) have been used to collect terrestrial invertebrates for one week of every month between May and September. These cups are set in grids at different distances from stream edges in both forested and logged areas. Samples are collected at distances of 2m, 7m, 20m and 40m from the streams. By sampling in this manner we will examine the effectiveness of the different buffer strip sizes to protect riparian invertebrate communities. Additionally, comparing invertebrate communities in forested versus recently logged sites will allow us to examine changes in the invertebrate community after forest harvesting.