The purpose of this project is to understand the habitat requirements of threatened woodland caribou herds in the transition zone between the 'mountain ecotype' and the 'northern ecotype'. Caribou herds in the central Rocky Mountains Ecoregion display a diverse pattern of habitat use patterns and require different, herd-specific habitat management practices. i) Caribou in the Parsnip herd, on the west slopes of the Rocky Mountains south of the Anzac River, demonstrate 'mountain caribou' habitat selection patterns. Those caribou remain in old-growth, subalpine forests throughout the year, and feed primarily on arboreal lichens in winter. Maintaining old forest reserves in subalpine forests, or use of partial cutting to maintain arboreal lichens in harvested stands, is recommended. ii) Caribou in the Kennedy siding herd, on the west slopes of the Rockies and north of the Anzac River, demonstrate a combination of 'mountain ecotype' and 'northern ecotype' behaviours. In early winter those caribou use a low elevation pine stand and feed on terrestrial and arboreal lichens. By late winter they move to the mountains and either feed on arboreal lichens in subalpine forests, or terrestrial lichens in the alpine. Consequently, they require habitat management strategies to maintain terrestrial lichen availability in low elevation pine stands, and arboreal lichens in subalpine stands. iii) Caribou on the east slopes of the Rockies, in the Quintette and Moberly herds, live primarily in the alpine throughout the year. In winter, these caribou feed on terrestrial lichens in the alpine or arboreal lichens in the subalpine. Use of arboreal lichens by these caribou is much greater than previously thought. Consequently, they require management strategies to maintain subalpine forest habitat. Three collared caribou have died over a two- year period (1 wolf kill, 1 grizzly kill, 1 unknown). This corresponds to an annual adult mortality rate of about 10%. Calf recruitment ranged from 20 to 23 calves/100 adults. It appears that these herds are stable.
Dale Seip, Elena Jones.
Jones, Elena, Seip, Dale R.. 2004. Ecological relationships between threatened caribou herds and their habitat in the central Rocky Mountains Ecoregion. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2004MR180