Coastal British Columbia is the focus of potential conflict between timber extraction and protection of forest components such as forage plants consumed by black bears. To protect foraging habitat and to enhance forage plant abundance, researchers and managers must understand the habitat requirements of these forage plants. We assessed the community structure of plants consumed by black bears in the Nimpkish Valley, British Columbia, with respect to environmental gradients. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS) ordination revealed that variation in community structure of forage plants was related to soil nutrient and moisture content, elevation, and tree overstorey dominance. Of these three factors, soil nutrient and moisture content had the strongest relations to forage plant communities. Species richness of forage plants and abundance of invasive forage plants generally increased with increasing soil nutrient and moisture content and with decreasing tree overstorey dominance. In contrast to invasive forage plants, residual forage plants did not respond consistently to any of the three factors indicated by the ordination, although abundance of many residual forage plants was depressed where tree overstorey dominance was high. To maintain the quality of black bear foraging habitat, forest managers should: (1) prioritize some forests with nutrient-rich and moist soils for protection; (2) ensure that these forested sites are distributed across the biogeoclimatic variants occupied by black bears; and (3) where harvesting occurs in these forested sites, avoid harvesting regimes that create large areas with a dense, structurally homogeneous tree cover.
Michelfelder, V., Lertzman, K.P.. 2007. Community Structure of Forage Plants Consumed by Black Bears in the Nimpkish Valley, British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Research Report (FLNRORD). TR35
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
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