Shrub changes with proximity to anthropogenic disturbance in boreal wetlands determined using bi-temporal airborne lidar in the Oil Sands Region, Alberta, Canada
Lima, E. Moura
In this study, we used bi-temporal airborne lidar data to compare changes in vegetation height proximal to anthropogenic disturbances in the Oil Sands Region of Alberta, Canada. We hypothesize that relatively low-impact disturbances such as seismic lines will increase the fragmentation of wetlands, resulting in shrub growth. Bi-temporal lidar data collected circa 2008 and 2018 were used to identify correspondence between the density of anthropogenic disturbances, wetland shape complexity and changes in vegetation height within >1800 wetlands near Fort McKay, Alberta, Canada. We found that up to 50% of wetlands were disturbed by anthropogenic disturbance in some parts of the region, with the highest proportional disturbance occurring within fens. Areas of dense anthropogenic disturbance in bogs resulted in increased growth and expansion of shrubs, while we found the opposite to occur in fens and swamps during the 10-year period. Up to 30% of bogs had increased shrubification, while shrub changes in fens and swamps varied depending on density of disturbance and did not necessarily correspond with shrub growth. As wetland shapes became increasingly elongated, the prevalence of shrubs declined between the two time periods, which may be associated with hydrological drivers (e.g. elongated may indicate surface and ground-water discharge influences). The results of this study indicate that linear disturbances such as seismic lines, considered to have relatively minimal impacts on ecosystems, can impact proximal wetland shape, fragmentation and vegetation community changes, especially in bogs.
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) applies
Boreal , Wetland change , Anthropogenic disturbance , Shrub growth , Lidar
Chasmer, L., Lima, E. M., Mahoney, C., Hopkinson, C., Montgomery, J., & Cobbaert, D. (2021). Shrub changes with proximity to anthropogenic disturbance in boreal wetlands determined using bi-temporal airborne lidar in the Oil Sands Region, Alberta Canada. Science of the Total Environment, 780, Article 146638. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146638