E-mail : amelie.rivet.1@ulaval.ca

A dendroecological method for evaluating porcupine activity in the Parc du Bic
Supervisor : Serge Payette
Co-supervisor : Dominique Berteaux, Université du Québec à Rimouski


The American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), a strict herbivore, is distributed across the majority of Canada. During the summer, the porcupine eats leaves, buds, and deciduous fruits, while during the cold season, it consumes the inner bark and needles of conifers in order to meet its energy requirements. A characteristic scar is formed when the porcupine eats tree bark but leaves the xylem intact. It is possible to identify the precise year that these scars were produced using dendrochronological methods. The goal of this study is to establish an index of porcupine abundance by dating porcupine scars. The study is located in the Parc du Bic (48° 19' to 48° 22' N; 68° 42' to 68° 47' W), were significant fluctuations in the porcupine population have recently been observed. The site chosen for the dendrochronological study of porcupine scars is situated on Mount Michaud in a jack pine (Pinus banksiana) stand. An analysis of stand structure will first be conducted in order to establish the age and height structure of the forest. As the underestimation of scar frequency increases with time, the age structure of the scars must be weighted. The stand structure data will allow us to evaluate scar loss with time and permit adjustments to be made on the porcupine abundance index.