Mountain caribou are an endangered but widespread ungulate that range into the North Thompson watershed of interior British Columbia. In early winter and spring, they forage primarily on hair lichens (Alectoria and Bryoria) in old growth, low elevation Interior Cedar Hemlock forests. We initiated a study to investigate changes in the abundance and distribution of these lichens in relation to forest harvesting. We looked at forests harvested with alternative harvesting methods, specifically dispersed-retention harvesting. Preliminary analyses suggest that the proportion of trees with lichen on them may be reduced for retention trees versus trees in unharvested stands. However, trees with lichen had similar amounts in both stand types. Overall, lichen abundance was lower in the retention stands. We also gathered data to examine the effects over time of the hard forest edges resulting from clearcut or group selection cuts, by gathering data along transects that spanned edges of various ages. Preliminary results highlighted the large variability in lichen biomass between sites and the need to complete the sampling design. The preliminary data suggests that an edge effect may occur, but change over time, with an immediate post-harvest reduction in Alectoria and Bryoria close to edges, and a potential rebound or increase in lichen biomass near edges 15-30 years post harvest. We present an annotated bibliography of other relevant literature from BC and elsewhere, and discuss potential work for a 2009 sampling season, including completing the lichen edge study, gathering more data from dispersed-retention stands, and initiating a complementary study to assess effects of forest harvesting practices on the amount of litterfall available as forage for caribou.
Kellner, Amanda M.E., van Oort, Harry; Furk, Kelsey; Bird, Corey E.; Serrouya, Robert; McLellan, Bruce N.. 2009. Forest harvesting and lichen availability for mountain caribou in the Interior Cedar Hemlock zone of the North Thompson,. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2009MR116
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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