Vegetation recovery on low impact seismic lines – 20 years later
Low-Impact Seismic (LIS) exploration techniques are being increasingly used in northeastern Alberta, Canada to explore and guide the development of in-situ oil sands deposits. These narrow (2-4-m wide), meandering man-made linear features are often closely spaced (50-100 m apart) in a grid pattern. They are most often created using mulchers and were developed to reduce loss of merchantable trees, minimize habitat loss, and minimize the loss of vegetation cover that would open up lines of sight that could result in increased mortality for some animals. In spite of their narrow widths, the dense spacing of LIS can result in a substantial overall physical surface footprint of >10% within a given mineral surface lease.
In this follow-up study to Kansas et al 2015, we used a paired sampling design to measure the extent of vegetation recovery and visual obstruction of wolves (Canis lupus) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) on 20-year-old LIS lines in the Boreal Plains of northeastern Alberta.
A manuscript is currently being prepared and will be submitted for publication.