Both interior cedar-hemlock (ICH) and sub-boreal spruce (SBS) stands in the wet-belt zone of central-interior BC were historically characterized by long ecological continuity (time between major disturbances). This has favoured the development of what have now been recognized as globally significant epiphytic lichen assemblages (1). At the same time, there has been growing recognition of conservation biology challenges faced by these lichen communities. In his AAC determination for the Prince George Timber Supply Area (PGTSA), the Chief Forester called for more research, in light of a number of information gaps on rare and sensitive species such as cyanolichens in wetbelt forests (2). Industry licensees have also had to consider SFI standard 4.1.4, which stipulates that licensees will have 'plans in place to protect species or communities that are vulnerable at the global, national, or regional level based upon conservation status ranking systems'. A major indicator of compliance with this standard is the 'Collection of information on critically imperiled and imperiled species and communities and other biodiversity-related data through forest inventory processes, mapping or participation in external programs'. The listing of the cyanolichen Nephroma occultum as a species of special concern by COSEWIC has further highlighted this need. Preliminary steps to address these information gaps include studies by Benson and Coxson (3), who found that canopy structure was a major determinant of lichen response in wetbelt forests, and studies by Radies and Coxson (4), who found that naturally even-aged stands were essentially devoid of canopy cyanolichens 120-140 years after stand initiation. This later finding is a major concern in landscapes where rotation ages will typically be 100 years or less. Today, licensees are increasingly considering silvicultural practices such as variable retention (VR) harvesting, which may promote the conservation of canopy lichen communities. This raises two major questions: ? Can we identify coarse filter attributes that are associated with sensitive lichen species within regional landscapes? ? Will sensitive species be retained (and grow) under silvicultural systems that maintain selected attributes of old-growth forests? The need for landscape level planning tools has been highlighted by Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management (MSRM) recommendations that old-growth management targets be met through aspatial designations. Although preliminary studies have noted the importance of topographic position (1) and stand age (5), there are currently no criteria that would allow resource managers to predict lichen biodiversity when using current coarse filter planning tools such as Predictive Ecosystem Mapping (PEM) and/or the Vegetation Resource Inventory (VRI). We would therefore propose development of a set of coarse filter attributes associated with the occurrence of sensitive lichen species in the ICHvk2 and SBSvk. In this way, our field results, when combined with VRI and PEM databases, could be applied to predict lichen biodiversity in wetbelt forests. Our proposed research program would have three major components addressing these information gaps: The first is the measurement of stand structural attributes and canopy lichen diversity in polygons from mesic and submesic ICHvk2 stands (which account for the majority of ICH landbase in the PGTSA) and mesic SBSvk stands, using PEM mapping from Canfor. Measurements of stand structural attributes will follow DeLong et al. (6), measurements of canopy closure will be modeled on Lertzman and co-authors (7), while lichen biodiversity assessments will use methods of McCune et al. (8). Pilot studies testing these methodologies for use in the ICHvk2 and SBSvk were conducted this past summer in conjunction with the Sustainable Forest Management Network. These landscape scale assessments will address FSP priority research topic 1.3, including question 1: 'What ...
Coxson, Darwyn S., Stevenson, Susan K.. 2007. Coarse filter approaches for the conservation biology of canopy lichens in wet cedar-hemlock and sub-boreal spruce forests of central-interior BC. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2007MR342
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), Lichens, British, Columbia
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