Multi-criteria evaluation of suitable ecological conditions for urban forest restoration in a double-crested cormorant impacted area of Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park

Authors: Danielle Marcoux-Hunter*, Urban Forest Research and Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University, Andrew A Millward, Urban Forest Research and Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group, Ryerson University
Topics: Biogeography, Urban Geography, Environment
Keywords: urban forestry, double-crested cormorant, Tommy Thompson Park, soil, restoration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines the relationship between double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and urban deforestation at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Tommy Thompson Park is located on a human constructed spit, providing habitat for colonial water birds to nest along Lake Ontario’s shoreline. In recent decades, double-crested cormorant colonization has resulted in the deforestation of the western edge of the park. This deforestation is an emerging problem for Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). The focal area for this study is Peninsula C, an 8.12-hectare area of the park that has experienced severe degradation of its forest due to consecutive years of cormorant nesting in its early-successional tree canopy. This study analyzes the current ecological conditions of Peninsula C, and aims to use these results to provide restoration recommendations to the TRCA. By following a systemic sampling approach, using a 30 x 30 m grid, this study uses geospatial interpolation to create continuous prediction surfaces of ecological conditions across the peninsula. These interpolation results are then used to create a site suitability map; a map whose attributes are derived from a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) to weight the assessed variables and provide a ranked output of desirable site characteristics for re-vegetation. The suitability map targets areas for forest restoration with the goals of promoting the maturation of the forest canopy at the park, while simultaneously deterring the future spread of cormorant nests.

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