The Kennedy Siding caribou herd contains about 160 caribou, and is one of the nationally Threatened caribou herds living in the Southern Mountains National Ecological Area. These animals are the northern ecotype of woodland caribou that feed primarily on terrestrial lichens during the winter. The pine-lichen winter range of this herd is an approved 2894 hectare Ungulate Winter Range (UWR), and forest management practices are guided by the General Wildlife Measures outlined in the UWR plan. Those measures require that at least half of the total UWR area is maintained in stands greater than 50 years of age. The pine-lichen winter range has recently been attacked by mountain pine beetle (MPB), and most of the trees are dead or dying. Salvage logging commenced in March 2005. Under the UWR measures, up to half can be salvage logged (about 1500 hectares), but the remaining 1500 hectares will be retained as standing dead trees. The purpose of this project is to monitor the response of the caribou and their habitat to MPB, and evaluate if the UWR management practices are effective in maintaining caribou use of the area. Because the Kennedy Siding UWR is very accessible, it is probably the most cost-effective and efficient location in all of B.C. to evaluate caribou use of MPB killed stands. Also, we have 5 years of pre-MPB caribou habitat use data for comparison. We are evaluating the response of caribou and their habitat to MPB attack, and the UWR management practices, including: i) timing and duration of use of the winter range (compared to our pre-MPB data). ii) caribou use of salvaged versus unsalvaged MPB attacked stands. iii) feeding habits of caribou in MPB attacked stands and salvaged stands. iv) snow depth and snow conditions in relation to MPB attack and salvage harvesting. v) terrestrial and arboreal lichen growth response in relation MPB attack and salvage harvesting. Methods include: i) monitoring 10 GPS radio-collared caribou to evaluate habitat use patterns. ii) ground trailing caribou in winter to determine feeding habits in relation to habitat characteristics. iii) snow measurements at permanent snow stations. iv) vegetation sampling in summer to quantify lichen availability in salvaged versus unsalvaged stands, and response over time to MPB attack. The results will be used to modify the UWR management practices if necessary. Any modifications would also apply to 136,672 hectares of caribou UWR in other parts of the Region that have similar management practices. As MPB spreads into the Peace River District, those management practices will be applied to additional areas of caribou habitat.
Seip, Dale R., Jones, Elena. 2008. Response of woodland caribou to partial retention logging of winter ranges attacked by mountain pine beetle. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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