Recreational Trail Impacts and their Spatial Influence on Species Diversity and Composition
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 08:47 by Nicholas Alexander Pankiw
This thesis quantifies the differences observed in floral communities exposed to varying degrees of long-term recreational trail use. The study was undertaken in a temperate deciduous forest located in Uxbridge, ON, Canada, which permits hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trail users. Vegetation exposed to trail impacts was sampled using transects which extended from the trail edge to 25m into the forest interior. The results demonstrated that trail-influenced environments experienced significant shifts in composition and reductions in species richness at distances beyond the influence of an edge effect. It was also established that types of recreational trail use do not disproportionately cause greater disturbance or result in greater exotic and invasive species coverage. Multiple regression analysis revealed that when choosing new trail routes, managers can mitigate changes to species composition by selecting areas with steep side-slopes and by avoiding areas with a south facing aspect.