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Extension of habitat supply tools: The caribou habitat assessment and supply estimator
Forest Investment Account (FIA)
Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in the Southern Mountain National Ecological Area were designated ?threatened? by COSEWIC in 2002, were added to the Species at Risk Act Schedule 1, and are a species at risk under the Forest and Range Practices Act in BC. Caribou are also commonly considered to be a leading indicator of biodiversity and ecosystem health in the boreal and sub-boreal forests (e.g., see ENGO programs such as Caribou Nation , Grey Ghosts , and Staring at Extinction ). The proposed 1-year research project will be used to merge together, refine, and extend to clients, two tools that currently are used to provide information for planning recovery of woodland caribou in British Columbia (BC). The tools are the Caribou Habitat Assessment and Supply Estimator (CHASE; McNay et al. 2003) and the mountain caribou HSM (McNay et al. 2005). The combined, non-proprietary tool will be designed for application to all recovery planning areas for threatened herds of caribou (mountain and northern ecotypes). We anticipate at least four major benefits to Government and others engaged in recovery planning from the proposed extension of previously supported research: 1. Independently, the two models have proven useful in recovery planning efforts (McNay et al. 2005, McNay et al. In Prep. ) but are limited to specific caribou herds or geographic areas and were built while standards for habitat supply (Jones et al. 2004) were evolving. A modeling approach that is applicable across the entire province will standardize data inputs and the habitat supply information generated. This will allow for a common reference point from which management actions concerning caribou may be designed and implemented. 2. The complexity of past attempts at modeling caribou habitat supply has restricted use of the models to developers and other specially-trained individuals. The result of this has been high costs for each successive use of the model and this alone has limited the full realization of the potential for habitat supply models to contribute to the decision-making process. Our proposal is to develop a user-interface based on standard software applications that will allow Government and other clients to implement the modeling procedure without assistance from model developers. 3. By combining habitat supply methods and results used for northern caribou (McNay et al. 2003) with the more recent results developed for mountain caribou (McNay et al. 2005), the research proposed here will create a new model with the most-relevant and widely-applicable elements of both models, integrating them into a new product under the guidance of ?herd experts?. 4. The new model will be automated to handle data input and processing, reducing user contact time and model-run costs. The figure below depicts a generalized flowchart for the intended model?s operational procedure. Its complexity and repetitive nature underscore the benefits of automation. For example, in the test run of the mountain caribou models, we used one simulation of three disturbance scenarios for each of 16 range models which provided 48 data sets for each of two parameters tracked (i.e., expected value and standard deviation of the expected value) or 96 data sets for each of the 12 planning areas (i.e., 1056 total output files). Automation will simplify user interaction and decrease the possibility of human error in handling these numerous, large data sets. Figure 1. Depiction of current caribou model data flow, the shaded area indicates the portion of the procedure that is to be automated. We emphasize that we do not propose to aid decision-making with new information about woodland caribou. This proposal is focused on making previously funded research more readily available to managers through new extension material in the form of non-proprietary software. We constructed a tool under previous research (FIA ? 400301) to efficiently and interactively summarize relevant information ...
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Executive summary
AutoCHASE development summary
AutoCHASE user manual

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