Food habits and habitat utilization of wildlife species on revegetated stripmine spoils in interior Alaska were studied from 1980 through 1982. Current reclamation techniques were beneficial for tundra voles, short-eared owls and marsh hawks. Caribou, Dall sheep, red fox, coyote, wolf, arctic ground squirrel, waterfowl, and various raptorial birds derived partial benefit from the reclaimed areas. The seeded grasses functioned as minor items in the diets of herbivores while reclaimed sites served as hunting areas for the various carnivores and raptors. Moose, showshoe hare, red-backed voles, willow ptarmigan and most nongame birds were adversely impacted by the reclaimed areas. Woody vegetation and its associated attributes such as cover and food were the essential habitat component missing from the reclaimed areas. Stripmining and reclamation procedures currently practiced in interior Alaska result in the formation of 'islands' of grassland interspersed throughout the natural habitat. The availability of undisturbed habitat adjacent to small sized, seeded areas, has made it possible for wildlife to take advantage of the reclaimed sites and still have sufficient amount of natural food and cover available with which to meet the nutritional and habitat needs of the animal. The detrimental effects of current reclamation procedures increase as the amounts of land disturbed by mining become very large. Present reclamation procedures create grasslands on disturbed sites. As the size of the disturbed area and subsequent areas of revegetation increases, the resulting loss of native forage and habitat will be very detrimental to the local wildlife. This adverse effect could be ameliorated if reseeded areas are interspersed with trees and shrubs. If recreating wildlife habitat is the major goal of reclamation, it is recommended that the creation of a diverse vegetative structure should be considered as important as the establishment of a ground cover.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1984
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