Mountain caribou are considered endangered by COSEWIC and the Species at Risk Act has highlighted the need for integrating caribou habitat needs with forest management. Due to the enormous implication of mountain caribou conservation, considerable research has documented habitats needed for winter foraging and ways to maintain this habitat using partial-cutting silvicultural systems, however, conditions needed for connectivity both within home ranges and among populations remains unknown. As well, predation appears to be the dominant source of mortality of mountain caribou. It has been suggested that the increase in predation is linked to an increase in predator numbers due to an increase in alternative prey, which, in turn is caused by a more fragmented landscape of young and old forests, plus, improved predator hunting efficiency due to the road network.
This project has 4 objectives:
1) to test if young forests reduce or block movements of mountain caribou. If these forests do impede caribou movements, then we will determine if young forests can be managed through silvicultural practices such as thinning, pruning, or uneven planting, to encourage caribou movement.
2) to determine if the apparent discrete subpopulations act as a meta-population with animals dispersing among the populations.
3) to investigate the foraging efficiency of wolves and cougars on landscapes of various levels of fragmentation and identify factors effecting kill success.
4) to work closely with land-use planners and operational foresters to implement what has been learned about caribou ecology.
McLellan, Bruce N.. 2006. Quantifying forest stand and landscape attributes that influence mountain caribou habitat fragmentation and predation rates. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2006MR147