Cleared corridors used to locate oil reserves were mostly undamaged and provided refuge for plants and insects as surrounding forest burned, U of A researcher finds.
Even as Alberta’s fierce wildfire raged in and around Fort McMurray in 2016, plants and butterflies were surviving in narrow strips of forest that remained green and undamaged.
Seismic lines, used to locate underground oil reserves, provided refuge from the blaze, said University of Alberta researcher Federico Riva, who outlined his recent findings after studying the area a year later.RELATED: Rare butterfly species more abundant in older, wider seismic lines
Because the cleared corridors provided little fuel for the fire, they stayed almost intact, allowing plants and butterflies to survive “even when the surrounding forest was almost completely burned,” said Riva, a post-doctoral fellow.
Of 107 plant and 46 butterfly species Riva observed, most were found to be more common in these corridors than in the neighbouring...