Alton Harestad

Professor Emeritus


  • BSc, University of British Columbia
  • MSc, University of British Columbia
  • PhD, University of British Columbia

Research Interests

My research program is directed primarily at habitat selection by forest birds and mammals, ecology of Mustelidae (pine marten, wolverine, and fisher), and vertebrate pest management. Members of my research team examine factors that affect habitat use of wildlife and relationships to forest practices. In some studies, we assessed the importance of structural features (e.g. security cover) to habitat selection. Structural requirements impose constraints on the types of plant communities used by animals such as black bears, marbled murrelets, bats, voles and deer mice. In other studies, we determined patterns of bird abundance and diversity (e.g., winter wrens) in different types of forests and their relationships to habitat characteristics and stand structure.
In the portion of my research program directed at the ecology of Mustelidae, we examined use of old-growth and young seral stages by pine marten and fisher. We developed and tested a habitat suitability index model for pine marten. This research provides understanding of wildlife populations, insights into (ecological relationships) and leads to guidelines for conservation and management of forests.
In our approach to vertebrate pest management, we investigate factors that affect foraging behaviour and habitat use, e.g. the behaviour of voles as mediated by predator odours. In other studies, we are examining life histories of wildlife to determine parameters that contribute to pest behaviour. This research will allow development of ecologically based methods for controlling wildlife damage to forest and agricultural crops. I was a member of the Scientific Panel on sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound. I collaborate with government agencies conservation groups, and industry to develop strategies and prescriptions for management of Forest Wildlife resources.

Forest removal and carrying capacity American marten (Martes americana). Dispersed removal is selective cutting or patch-cutting blocks of less than 3 ha in boreal conifer-dominated forest.