Aspen, birch, and black cottonwood deciduous species are a major part of the forest environment in the Columbia River Basin, both as pure stands interspersed through the landscape and as individual or small groups of trees within coniferous forests. Deciduous forests (meaning forests comprised of trees with leaves that fall off seasonally) support a wide range of species and are critical to the Basin's biodiversity.
Biodiversity Interactive Maps - Deciduous Forest
Animal species supported
Many animal species show a preference for deciduous stands. These forests are home to a wide range of riverine species, such as beaver, osprey, great blue heron and cavity nesting ducks, and for songbirds as migratory resting and feeding areas. Deciduous forests are also very popular with ungulates like elk, moose and deer for foraging purposes.
Deciduous Forest Facts
- Deciduous forests are well adapted to fire and respond well to other disturbance factors such as logging, fluvial process, avalanche activity and construction activities that expose soils.
- Flooding of riparian areas due to dam construction along the major rivers in the Columbia River Basin is a major factor in the decline of cottonwood stands and related riparian habitats.
- Browsing by ungulates and livestock has likely had a major impact on aspen and cottonwood recruitment in the Rocky Mountain Trench and Elk Valley of the East Kootenay.
- Birch and aspen are very important to a range of smaller cavity nesters and insectivorous woodpeckers.
- Cottonwoods provide larger cavity sites, created by pileated woodpeckers and used by an array of larger birds and small mammals such as fishers.
- Deciduous forests provide habitat attributes similar to conifer forests, but in greater abundance and at a younger age.
- Recent deciduous forest projects confirm the importance of conserving the remaining cottonwood stands and floodplain riparian areas.