Funded by LBAYS: Investigation of boreal forest integrity for the conservation of mammal species

Francesca Malcangi focuses on analyzing forest ecological integrity amid anthropogenic pressure. Conducting fieldwork in forests, she explores the Kanta-Häme region's patchy landscapes, providing insights into forest integrity.

Lammi Biological Station has been my home for almost two years and is where I mainly conduct my doctoral research, which is the analysis of forest ecological integrity in relation to anthropogenic pressure. For this reason, I conducted my research fieldwork in forests privately owned by Finnish landowners living in the Kanta-Häme region, which is characterized by patchy forests and agricultural landscapes, making it ideal for the assessment of forest integrity. Thanks to this, I have the opportunity not only to learn more about the forests surrounding the Lammi area, but also about the local people and their views on the importance of forest corridors for the conservation of wildlife, especially for native species to boreal forests.

Forest integrity is often difficult to fully understand and measure because it describes the completeness and functionality of an ecosystem and its ecological processes, especially in relation to its natural state. In my doctoral research, using the Forest Landscape Integrity Index (the first consistent measure of ecological integrity for all the world’s forests), I am analysing the state of boreal forests in relation to the presence, abundance and richness of mammal species monitored through the Wildlife Triangle Scheme. Thanks to this, it will be possible to identify threshold values for forest integrity and set specific conservation targets for wildlife conservation, that should aim to increase favorable habitats for native species.


Considering this, from the results of my first research, it is possible to observe that the species native to the Finnish boreal forests have a higher abundance in forests with higher integrity (in particular, mountain hare, lynx, moose, wolverine, and pine marten) than non-native and/or northly expanding species whose abundance increases in forests with lower integrity, indicating a greater adaptive capacity of these species, even in areas with higher human presence.

In my research on camera-trapping, I will also evaluate forest integrity as a variable characterizing forest corridors, which are important components of landscape connectivity for allowing the movement of animals between habitat patches.

Forest connectivity, including forest integrity, is influenced by human activities and affects wildlife. This analysis will be significant because it will be possible to understand which specific features the corridors need to constitute efficient elements for favoring the conservation of native species and for predicting and avoiding the spread of invasive species.

Francesca Malcangi is a 2022 LBAYS grant recipient.

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