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Report: Effects of Mountain Pine Beetles and Forest Harvesting on Caribou Terrestrial Forage Lichens in the Omineca Area Annual Report - 2016/17

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The goal of this project is to better understand terrestrial caribou forage lichen dynamics following habitat alteration in order to develop conservation practices for the sustainable supply of forage for caribou.

Author:  Cichowski, D.; Sutherland, G.; McNay, S.

Old Reference Number:  PEA-F-17-W-1315

Old Reference System:  FWCP Fish Wildlife Compensation Program - Peace

Date Published:  Aug 2017

Report ID:  52759

Audience:  Government and Public

In north-central British Columbia (BC), caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in the Chase, Wolverine, and Scott ranges (Omineca caribou) are part of the Southern Mountain Caribou (SMC) population, which is listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (Environment Canada 2014). During winter, Omineca caribou use low elevation lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests where they forage for terrestrial lichens. The recent mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae; MPB) epidemic and increased forest harvesting pressures on Omineca caribou winter ranges have led to concerns about habitat supply and caribou population dynamics. This project assesses response of caribou terrestrial lichens in the Omineca area to six forest harvesting treatments 12-14 years following treatment, and to MPB attack, using previously established permanently marked plots. Information from this project will assist in assessing the effects of habitat alteration due to MPB and forest harvesting on habitat supply and population dynamics for the Wolverine, Scott and Chase caribou populations. The goal of this project is to better understand terrestrial caribou forage lichen dynamics following habitat alteration in order to develop conservation practices for the sustainable supply of forage for caribou. Specific objectives for 2016-17 include: 1) re-measuring terrestrial lichen abundance, competing vegetation abundance, stand structure, regeneration and coarse woody debris at five sites in MPB-killed stands and post-forest harvest sites in the Omineca area, and 2) assessing changes in forest floor vegetation dynamics, stand structure, and coarse woody debris accumulation since pre-MPB measurements at control plots, and since post-harvesting measurements at harvested lots. This project aligns with the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program's Species of interest Action Plan in that it addresses Action 1b-2 'Implement projects identified through approved recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans' by addressing three recovery approaches in "The Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada" (Environment Canada 2014): 1) measure and monitor habitat alteration to southern mountain caribou habitat; 2) assess the impact of natural disturbance (e.g. forest fire, mountain pine beetle, pine rusts) on the long-term habitat management of southern mountain caribou ranges; and, 3) monitor habitat and use adaptive management to assess progress and adjust management activities as appropriate. This project evaluates the impact of MPB and six different forest harvesting regimes on caribou terrestrial forage lichens using previously established permanent plots.

Report Type
  Terrestrial Information
  Biogeoclimatic Zone - BWBS Boreal White and Black Spruce Zone
  Biogeoclimatic Zone - SBS Sub-Boreal Spruce Zone
  Mammals - Caribou: Rangifer tarandus
  Vegetation - Plant Ecology

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