Mountain caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are an ecotype of woodland caribou which reside in the wet conifer forests of southeastern British Columbia (BC). This species is strongly associated with older forests where arboreal lichen, their dominant winter food source, is most abundant (Apps et al. 2001). However, populations throughout BC have been declining since the early 20th century, and are currently listed as endangered provincially, and as threatened federally (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC 2002). As such, revised guidelines for maintaining mountain caribou habitat in Appendix 10 of the Kamloops Land and Resource Management Plan require that 40% of all capable caribou habitat be maintained in ?suitable? condition in each of the core winter planning cells. Furk and Lewis (2005) completed a draft spatialized plan for the designation of these suitable areas by planning cells. However, several forest types that showed caribou use based on VHF and GPS telemetry data, particularly partial cut forests and mature forests that did not meet the age requirements for the suitability criteria (< 141 years) were not counted in the area as suitable habitat. Therefore a methodology needs to be established to determine how ?non-suitable forest types? (mature forest < 140 years and partial cut stands) contribute to the amount of ?suitable habitat? in a planning cell and to determine how ?suitability? of these stands may change over time with changing stand conditions as part of the ?expert layer? process defined in Appendix 10. The data collected in this project is intended to be used in the creation of a ?suitability rating? methodology for these stands as part of the ?expert layer? process. This data will also provide an additional and independent data source to that collected by Lewis (2004) which is currently being used to calibrate a stand-level model being developed by Walt Klenner, MoFR research Branch, and others to forecast changes in the composition and abundance of arboreal lichen under different forest conditions in ESSF forests. Weyerhauser Company provided initial funding for data collection in partial cut and mature forests in the Avola Mountain area. Additional funding was provided through Dr. Klenner and the Southern Interior Forest Region?s Research Branch to sample additional partial cut stands as well as old and juvenile stands in the East Barriere Lake / Blomley Creek area near Barriere, BC.
prepared by Corey E. Bird and Douglas W. Lewis.
Bird, Corey E., Lewis, Douglas W.. 2007. Caribou habitat suitability: a summary of field data collected near Avola and Barriere, BC, in the engelmann spruce subalpine fir wet (ESSF wc2) biogeoclimatic subzone. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2007MR164