Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management (Fredericton)

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Study nonpublic involvement and payments for ecosystem services in management of the Miyun Reservoir Watershed
Study nonpublic involvement and payments for ecosystem services in management of the Miyun Reservoir Watershed
by Qianquian Shen, The objective of this study is to review public involvement in management of the Miyun Reservoir Watershed in China, particularly the involvement of upstream rural communities and downstream urban water users, and study those two groups of stakeholders’ involvement or potential involvement in payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs. The report finds that for upstream rural communities’ involvement in PES programs, it is important to secure land tenure and take rural households’ socioeconomic characteristics into consideration. The survey of water users in Beijing shows that awareness of the importance of the Watershed and some demographic factors influence users’ willingness to pay for ecosystem services of the Miyun Reservoir Watershed.
Sudden fir mortality in New Brunswick, Canada
Sudden fir mortality in New Brunswick, Canada
by Yinuo Zhou, Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is a historically, ecologically, and economically significant species in New Brunswick. In 2018, sudden foliar drying and discoloration occurred in many balsam fir trees province-wide. The trees turned red and died in one growing season, referred to as Sudden Fir Mortality (SFM). Previous research suggests possible causes include drought, fungi, insects, and climatic drivers. However, the epidemiology of SFM and implications for management strategies were not fully explored, nor have possible tree-level predisposing factors been investigated. Dendrochronology was used to evaluate tree growth response associated with SFM across three regions in western New Brunswick. Results indicate that SFM-killed trees were less vigorous, started growing slower 12-24 years prior to mortality, and died one year earlier in the colder, drier northern region. These results can be used to help guide forest management strategies aimed at detecting and minimizing SFM-associated losses., A Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Forestry. Electronic Only.
Testing the effects of climate change on the early developmental stages of tree species in the Acadien forest
Testing the effects of climate change on the early developmental stages of tree species in the Acadien forest
by William Robert Vaughn, In this study, I experimentally simulated winter and summer climate change to determine the effects on seeds and seedlings of commercially and ecologically important tree species in the Acadian Forest Region. Objectives were to determine: 1) the effects of simulated winter warming on germination success of six Acadian Forest tree species with heated outdoor plots; and 2) the interactive effects of summer warming, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide and reduced soil moisture on growth and survival of balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) and red maple (Acer rubrum L.) with chambers in a greenhouse. Winter warming did not significantly reduce germination success at the species level, but I observed high intraspecific variations in seedlot germination success and sensitivity to warming. Red maple displayed better survival and greater absolute growth under projected summer warming and drought, while red spruce exhibited some tolerance and balsam fir was the least adapted., Electronic Only.
The development of spruce and pine plantations after early silviculture treatments
The development of spruce and pine plantations after early silviculture treatments
by Megan McKinley, A plantation establishment trial was initiated in 1994 with two scarification treatments (two passes of a Marden drum chopper, and a control), three herbicide treatments (two applications over the first two years following planting, three applications at years 1, 2, and 4 following planting, and a control), and four species (jack pine, black spruce, white spruce, and Norway spruce). Subplots of 18 trees in each species×scarification×herbicide treatment combination (100 tree blocks) were measured over time. This report presents the results at age 21. In this study, herbicide application had the greatest influence on tree growth, resulting in the influence of species and drum chopping to be insignificant. Jack pine responded greatest to the administration of three herbicide treatments by 63.6cm in mean height, and 0.872cm in mean diameter at breast height (DBH) at age 21 compared to the next largest species for each growth response. Each species achieved ≥ 74% survival when herbicide was applied, except for Norway spruce that had the lowest survival of 62% overall. Black spruce had the greatest survival when no treatments were applied.
Thermal and hydraulic characteristics of landscapes and their rivers
Thermal and hydraulic characteristics of landscapes and their rivers
by Antóin Mícheál O'Sullivan, Landscapes and riverscapes are hydrologically interconnected through the four dimensions of space and time. While we have some understanding of local scale processes and global scale cycles, at the landscape and riverscape scales we have yet to truly solidify an understanding of interconnectedness. This dissertation examines the hydrological interconnectedness between landscapes and rivers using temperature as a tracer, and the spatial arrangement of aquatic habitats of rivers and wetlands. It was found that geology and specifically bedrock transmissivity exerts an apparent primary control on hydrological processes and river thermal regimes across the New Brunswick region. In areas with high conductance geology, topographic incisions (valleys) generated groundwater discharge which modified river flow and temperature. Inversely, topographic incisions in low conductance geology lacked groundwater discharge, and river flow and temperatures were more tightly coupled to climate. Upland wetlands on a high conductance geologic formation were associated with a lack of groundwater discharge and warm river temperatures, indicating potential recharge points. Winter satellite imagery can accurately delineate groundwater discharges in frozen rivers. Groundwater plume extent was observed to differentiate between summer and winter. High-resolution aerial imagery (30 cm) coupled with field calibration data was effective at modelling river bathymetry and hydraulics across a large catchment (> 1,000 km²). Applying these data to a machine learning algorithm revealed that low flow, aquatic habitats in the Little Southwest Miramichi broadly follow pool-riffle-slack water sequences. Earth's abiotic and biotic systems are tightly interwoven. Changes within each reverberate through space-time moving towards a dynamic equilibrium. While some changes occur at scales that override our ability to observe them, commonalities exist across Earth's ecosystems, and these fuel adaptation and evolution. My thesis illustrates the interconnectedness of landscapes, wetlands that lie upon them and rivers that flow through them. I conclude by presenting a concept to guide future research direction, 'the waterscape continuum concept' (WCC). The continuum unifies surface water, soil and rock moisture, and groundwater. Applying the WCC, scientists, researchers, and practitioners are required to learn about climatic, geologic, and geomorphic processes - inherently leading to better experimental designs, and will reveal new findings of Earth system processes., Electronic Only.
Use of RADARSAT-2 polarimetric SAR images for drought code mapping over Canadian Prairie grasslands
Use of RADARSAT-2 polarimetric SAR images for drought code mapping over Canadian Prairie grasslands
by Duncan Dawson Rand, To enable fire danger mapping, the Canadian Fire Weather Index System’s drought code (DC) component needs to be determined. This study reports test results on the use of CBand polarimetric synthetic aperture radar images to assess DC levels over Canadian Prairies grasslands. Forty-five RADARSAT-2 images acquired for the 2008-2012 fire seasons were analyzed to determine those corresponding to the extreme wet, extreme dry, and in-season wet DC conditions. These were used to compute a number of polarimetric parameters which were compared to identify which vary most significantly over the DC conditions within eight vegetation classes in the study area. The results show statistically significant differences for a number of parameters demonstrating their utility to distinguish between DC conditions independent of seasonal vegetation changes. The current study will enable further research to develop algorithms predicting DC values which would permit remote estimation of fire danger conditions on the Canadian Prairies grasslands.
Use of high-resolution optical satellite imagery to map eelgrass beds in shallow coastal waters in Atlantic Canada
Use of high-resolution optical satellite imagery to map eelgrass beds in shallow coastal waters in Atlantic Canada
by David Forsey, Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) is a marine angiosperm plant that grows throughout coastal areas in Atlantic Canada. Eelgrass meadows provide numerous ecosystem services and while they have been acknowledged as important habitats, their location, extent and health in Atlantic Canada are poorly understood. Our study examines the effectiveness of WorldView-2 and Pléiades optical satellite imagery to map eelgrass presence in Tabusintac, New Brunswick, an estuarine lagoon with extensive eelgrass coverage. The imagery was classified using two supervised classifiers: the parametric Maximum Likelihood Classifier (MLC) and the non-parametric Random Forests (RF) classifier. While RF was expected to produce higher classification accuracies, it was shown not to be much better than MLC. The overall validation accuracy was 96.36% for both the RF and MLC classifiers when applied to the WorldView-2 8-band imagery. With MLC, WorldView-2 imagery outperformed Pléiades imagery. Limitations of the study are discussed, including the possible reasons for the low performance of the Pléiades classification.
Using hyperspectral images to map moisture content and basic density of boards and frozen and thawed logs
Using hyperspectral images to map moisture content and basic density of boards and frozen and thawed logs
by Ataollah Haddadi Goyaghaj, The purpose of this research was to investigate the use of near infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI) for in-line moisture content (MC) and basic specific gravity (BSG) estimation of thawed and frozen logs as well as of boards. We also developed a method to classify the logs according to their MC, BSG, species, and log state (frozen and thawed). Samples from three different species (black spruce, quaking aspen, balsam poplar) for logs and one species (subalpine fir) for board were collected and dried in different steps. We also considered frozen samples for logs. For each step hyperspectral NIR images and weight measurements were acquired. The images were subjected to the following processing. They were first calibrated into reflectance. Then, bad pixels were found and replaced by a corrected value using a median filter. A new method was developed to find and remove abnormal spectra. It consisted of a combination of the boxplot method and principle component analysis (PCA). The remaining spectra were converted into absorbance spectra. The raw absorbance spectra were subjected to several spectral transformations, such as the multiplicative scatter correction (MSC), as well as the first, and second derivatives. For the board, the best PLS model was found in using raw spectra for both MC and BSG estimation and had an RMSEV of 10.8% and 0.007, respectively. For the log samples, PLS models were calibrated by considering two factors: log state (thawed and frozen conditions) and species, and their combination. Then the models were applied to the whole board images in order to produce 2D images of MC and BSG. Models were better with thawed logs than with frozen logs. The models estimated MC with an RMSE that varies between 2.94% in the case of black spruce to 15.49% in the case of balsam poplar. The model’s accuracy for BSG estimation was the best when all the three species were used together (RMSEV=0.036). PLS discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was also applied to sort log samples into three MC or BSG classes, species, or the log state (frozen and thawed). The overall accuracy of PLS-DA models were above 72% for both MC and BSG sorting and above 85% for the species and log state sorting. Finally, the Kubelka-Munk theory equations were employed to calculate several wood optical properties from visible-near-infrared reflectance spectra acquired over thin samples of quaking aspen and black spruce. The properties included absorption and scattering coefficients, transport absorption, reduced scattering, and penetration depth. The sample MC was then estimated using PLS regression method from the absorption and scattering coefficient spectra. Absorption coefficient spectra between 800 and 1800 nm can provide PLS models having an acceptable accuracy for MC estimation (𝑅𝐶𝑉2=0.83 and RMSECV=2.32%), regardless of the species.
Wetland mapping with Landsat-8, Sentinel-1, Alos-1 Palsar, and LiDAR data in southern New Brunswick, Canada
Wetland mapping with Landsat-8, Sentinel-1, Alos-1 Palsar, and LiDAR data in southern New Brunswick, Canada
by Chafika Phiri, Mapping wetlands with high spatial and thematic accuracy is crucial for the management and monitoring of these important ecosystems. Wetland maps in New Brunswick (NB) have traditionally been produced by the visual interpretation of aerial photographs. In this study, we used an alternative method to produce a wetland map for southern New Brunswick, Canada, by classifying a combination of Landsat 8 OLI, Alos-1 Palsar, Sentinel-1, and LiDAR-derived topographic metrics with the Random Forests (RF) classifier. The images were acquired in three seasons (spring, summer, and fall) with different water levels and during leaf-off/on periods. The resulting map provides eleven wetland classes (open bog, shrub bog, treed bog, open fen, shrub fen, freshwater marsh, coastal marsh, shrub marsh, shrub wetland, forested wetland, and aquatic bed) plus various non-wetland classes. We achieved an overall accuracy classification of 97.67% and a kappa coefficient of 95.39%. The remained 489 in-situ validation sites were compared to the classified image, the provincial wetland reference map available through Service New Brunswick in 2016, and the new provincial wetland map of 2019. Of these sites, 94.27% were identified in the correct wetland class on the classified image, but only 29.86% of the sites were correctly identified on the 2016 NB provincial reference map. Only 62.17% of the sites were mapped as wetlands on the 2019 NB provincial reference map. Our approach had a better performance than the traditional visual interpretation of air photos. Keywords: Wetland; Optical; SAR, Sentinel-1, Landsat-8, LiDAR, Random Forests, Alos-Palsar., A Report Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of: Master of Forestry, in the Graduate Academic Unit of Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick; and M. Sc. Forest Science, Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova
Wood turtle ecology and management strategies in a landscape under active agriculture
Wood turtle ecology and management strategies in a landscape under active agriculture
by Shaylyn Wallace, I investigated the habitat selection of wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) in a landscape within active agriculture and assessed the risk of agricultural practices. I tracked 23 wood turtles and recorded their habitat use versus availability on a 3rd and 4th order scale. I found that wood turtles preferred fields over the forest and that hay fields are likely an attractant to wood turtles due to high food availability and low canopy cover. Wood turtles used the hayfields during the hay harvest season, and stayed close to field edges. I monitored the movement response of wood turtles as they were approached by agricultural machinery and found that most turtles could not successfully escape the mower. My study shows that agriculture poses a high risk to wood turtles in an agricultural landscape and management strategies are necessary to prevent populations from extirpation.

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