Boreal wetlands are recognized as important wildlife habitats, especially as breeding and staging grounds for a large number of waterfowl. The main objectives of this study were to quantify the distribution of wetland and aquatic wildlife-habitat landscape types within boreal Quebec and to determine how such recognizable wildlife habitats vary among climatic regimes and landforms. A total of 456 forest maps systematically distributed within a 540000 km2 area were used to classify 12 wetland and 5 different aquatic habitat types. Habitat types belonging to wetland and aquatic classes respectively covered 10.3 % and 11.7 % of the study area. Spatial heterogeneity was confirmed using a hierarchical cluster analysis by identification of 6 wetland landscape types further categorized into 3 groups: wet, dry, and anthropogenic. The last emphasizes the magnitude of human alteration of aquatic habitats, with reservoirs representing 26% of total water coverage. Partial redundancy analyses showed that landform data alone had better explanatory power (28%) than climatic data (19%) to account for the variation in wetland coverage. These results suggest that terrestrial ecozones based on landform (rather than climate) could serve as indicators for wetland conservation planning and facilitate wetland conservation and management decisions.
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Vol. 20 • No. 4