Canadian Forest Service Publications

Immediate effects of chemical and mechanical soil preparation techniques on epigaeic arthropod assemblages during reclamation of in situ oil and gas sites in northern Alberta, Canada. 2022. Hammond, J.H.E.; Hoffman, P.G.K.; Pinzon, J.; Krygier, R.; Wu, L.; Hartley, D.J. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 52(11):1459-1497.

Year: 2022

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 41037

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2022-0097

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Epigaeic arthropods have been used worldwide as indicators of post-disturbance recovery in many different types of ecosystems. We used them to evaluate the merit of different reclamation prescriptions applied to areas disturbed by oil and gas exploration and extraction. We compared the short-term effects of different mechanical and chemical site preparation techniques on the epigaeic arthropod fauna of previously reclaimed borrow pits in arrested succession with results from plots in untreated disturbed sites and undisturbed adjacent forest. In general, arthropod diversity increased and abundance decreased with the severity of soil disturbance involved in the silvicultural prescription. We place arthropod communities into four discrete groups reflected in the treatments and the environmental characteristics of the sites: forest species, grassland species, species primarily found in herbicide plots, and species found in disturbed soil. Individual borrow pits accounted for a significant amount of variation in faunal assemblages, suggesting that site location, vagaries of colonization, or disturbance history play a significant role in how the fauna recovers post disturbance. Our study provides baseline data required to document the trajectory of recovery in these sites. Long-term monitoring is essential to evaluate the relative usefulness of reclamation prescriptions in meeting targets established by law.

Plain Language Summary

Practices used to reclaim areas after oil and gas extraction have changed over time. Early reclamation techniques such as seeding areas with grass often resulted in a lack of tree establishment on the site. We examined the immediate effects of different mechanical and chemical site preparation techniques on the insect fauna of previously reclaimed oil and gas sites that failed to restore forest cover. Insects were sampled one year post treatment. We found that insect diversity increased and abundance decreased with increasing amounts of soil disturbance. Insect communities grouped into four classes: forest species, grassland species, species from non soil disturbed plots and species found in heavily disturbed soils. In addition to silvicultural treatment, site location or disturbance history also plays a significant role in how the fauna recovers post disturbance. Silvicultural methods that enhance the amount of organic matter in the soil and promotion of weed control may accelerate seedling establishment and colonization of reclaimed sites by forest species. These data provide the baseline data required to compare future recovery of these sites which emphasizes the need for long term monitoring of reclaimed areas.