The investigation of edge effects within ragmented forest islands in Short Hills Provincial Park
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It has been well documented, within the field of landscape ecology, that terrestrial fragmentation contributes to increased heterogeneity at the landscape level. It has also been observed that elevated areas of edge habitat occur within fragmented landscapes. Spatial and temporal edge effects were investigated in four areas designated as Nature Reserve Zones within Short Hills Provincial Park, near St. Catharines, Ontario. Random sampling along exposed edges was performed on trees and saplings, at 5 and 25 ill edge depths, using the point-centred quarter method. Diameter at breast height (dbh) and distance from point measurements were used to establish relative density, dominance, frequency and importance value. One-way analyses of variance were used on dbh measurements of tree species and Chi-Square contingency tables were used on size class distributions of saplings species to determine significant differences between 5 and 25 metres. Qualitative comparisons of importance values were also used to determine differences between 5 and 25 metres as well as between trees and saplings. These statistical and qualitative comparisons suggest that a significant overall spatial edge effect is currently exhibited by fragmented wooded islands within the park. The major species of the park, Acersaccharuln, may be exhibiting a temporal edge effect. The heterogeneous nature of the park may be of importance in understanding this area as a complex, ecological system. It is possible that the remaining forest tracts of the park have been affected, and continue to be affected by previous disturbances. Based on these findings, recommendations are made to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources concerning the management of Short Hills Provincial Park in accordance with their 1990 proposed Management Plan.