Old-growth specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) is a lichen found on the west coast of Canada and the U.S. from Oregon to southeast Alaska. Current known locations are primarily associated with late-seral or old-growth forests. Old-growth specklebelly (OGS) lichen is currently on Schedule 3 (Special Concern) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) with a re-assessment expected in 2009. Collections in recent years on northern Vancouver Island suggest that this lichen may be more common than previously thought in this portion of its range, with important implications for forest management. The objectives of this project were to obtain baseline data on the relative abundance and distribution of OGS lichen in TFL 6 and TFL 19 that would provide improved data to inform COSEWIC designation and forest management strategies. Surveys for OGS were completed on 5 to 10 stands in each of 7 different watersheds. OGS lichen was found in all 7 watersheds and 29 of the 50 sites surveyed, for a 58% success rate. OGS appears to be more common in TFL19 (72%) than TFL6 (33%), although some of the sites with the highest abundance were found in the Cayuse valley of TFL6. The frequency in the Gold River operation seems at least partially due to the greater proportion of higher elevation forests with a component of yellow-cedar than in the Jeune Landing and Holberg operations where the topography is more subdued. OGS lichen was found across a wide range of ecosystems as classified by biogeoclimatic site series. Most sites were in the montane CWHvm2 variant and at upper elevations in the CWHvm1. We also found OGS on two out of four sites in the Mountain Hemlock (MH) zone. Prime habitat for OGS is moderate to productive CWHvm2 sites with Yc. We confirmed that the preferred habitat is a lower-canopy amabilis fir in the canopy drip of yellow-cedar; however, we found it on western hemlock, mountain hemlock, yellow-cedar, western yew, and western redcedar, as well as dead amabilis fir. We also found OGS on amabilis fir on rich sites where it was not directly associated with yellow-cedar. Sites with OGS ranged from 485m to 980m. We collected over 50 specimens, with photos, habitat descriptions, and site and vegetation data at each site visited. Where OGS occurred, we typically found it within 10 minutes with 2 people searchingoften on the first suitable tree. Colonies ranged from a few small individuals on branches to large patches on old amabilis fir stems that were quite vigorous. Colour was surprisingly variable, but there is a subtle difference from the commonly occurring Lobaria oregana. The results indicate that old-growth specklebelly lichen is widely distributed on at least the portion of northern Vancouver Island surveyed. Protected areas and biodiversity conservation strategies that are already in place through BC government regulations and voluntary certification, as well as significant areas of inoperable timber, provide landscapelevel reserves and stand-level retention that should maintain significant old-growth habitat to sustain this species.
Western Forest Products Ltd., Beese, W.J. (Bill). 2009. Old-growth Specklebelly Lichen Survey - TFL6. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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