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Mountain pine beetle as an agent of enhanced hair lichen biomass, with implications for the winter ecology of mountain caribou
Goward, Trevor
Lodgepole Pine in southern British Columbia is currently being decimated by an unprecedented outbreak of Mountain Pine Beetle. In many areas the resulting dead trees will result, at least temporarily, in an anomalously open canopy structure highly conducive to the production of arboreal hair lichens. Within the next ten to 15 years, and based on the "preference" of hair lichens for dead branches (Goward 1998), both beetle-killed pine stands and adjacent living stands of other tree species can be expected to accumulate hair lichen loadings many times heavier than at present. Though hair lichen production will be most copious in the middle and upper canopy (Goward & Campbell 2005), well ventilated sites are likely to yield heavy loadings within foraging reach of Mountain Caribou (Goward 2003a). Putting aside the increased possibility of wildfire in some instances, the existence of open canopy structure within the wintering range of Mountain Caribou is likely to considerably enhance winter foraging opportunities in the years to come. To the extent these animals are currently under pressure from predators, it seems clear they would greatly benefit from greater foraging options. If only for this reason, future salvage logging operations of beetle-killed pine within the winter range of the Mountain Caribou should probably be kept to a minimum. Stands with a high potential for heavy hair lichen loadings are most critical in this regard, and should be allowed to remain standing. Following from these observations, we wish to devise a simple predictive model for the recognition of Lodgepole Pine stands conducive to heavy hair lichen loadings. This model will be based on earlier work by Goward and colleagues (see refs.) and will be supplemented by fieldwork in areas recently affected by mountain pine beetle. The model will incorporate simple qualitative measures of illumination and ventilation (Goward and others, in prep.). Goward, T. 1998. Observations on the ecology of the lichen genus Bryoria in high elevation conifer forests. Canadian Field Naturalist: 112: 496-501. Goward, T. 2003a. On the vertical zonation of Hair Lichens (Bryoria) in the canopies of high-elevation oldgrowth conifer forests. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 114: 39-43. Goward, T. 2003b. On the dispersal of hair lichens (Bryoria) in high-elevation oldgrowth conifer forests. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 117: 44-48. Goward, T. and A. Arsenault. 2003. Notes on the Populus "dripzone effect" in well ventilated stands in humid inland east-central British Columbia. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 117: 61-65. Goward, T. and J. Campbell. 2005. Arboreal hair lichens in a young, mid-elevation conifer stand, with implications for the management of Mountain Caribou. The Bryologist 108: 427-434.
Report Number
Final Technical Report

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