Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y073086

    Quantifying forest stand and landscape attributes that influence mountain caribou habitat fragmentation and predation rates
 
Project lead: McLellan, Bruce
Contributing Authors: Wittmer, Heiko Uwe; Sinclair, Anthony R.E.; McLellan, Bruce N.; Serrouya, Robert; Apps, Clayton D.; Seip, Dale R.; Young, James A.; Kinley, Trevor A.; Watts, Glen S.; Hamilton, Dennis; Hovey, Frederick W.
Imprint: [BC] :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Mountain caribou, British Columbia, Woodland caribou
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Description:
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 a dominant source of mortality of mountain caribou (Wittmer et al. submitted). It has been suggested that the increase in predation is linked to an increase in predator numbers due to an increase in alternative prey, plus, improved predator hunting efficiency due to the road network. Increases in alternative prey are thought to be caused by a more fragmented landscape of young and old forests. This project has 4 objectives: 1) test if young forests block movement of mountain caribou. If these forests do block 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. We will also document attributes of young stands that provide foraging opportunities; 2) determine if the apparent discrete populations act as a meta-population with animals dispersing among the populations and determine how the level of inter-population movement affects population viability. This will allow us to test factors that influence population fragmentation; 3) investigate the foraging efficiency of predators (wolves and cougars) on landscapes of various levels of fragmentation and identify factors effecting kill success, and to document changes in predator functional and numerical response to changes in moose abundance (due to increases in hunting pressure) and, if there are changes in these responses, determine if there are changes in predation rates on caribou; 4) work closely with land-use planners and operational foresters to implement what has been learned about caribou ecology. In addition to these main objectives, this project will maintain a sample of radio-collared caribou that will be used to: a) refine our knowledge of movements and habitat selection; b) act as the marked sample in a mark-resight population estimate; c) determine mortality factors of adult and juvenile caribou. Mortality of juvenile caribou has been scarcely studied thus we intend to fill this knowledge gap. Although this project is related to several themes in the Sustainability Program, Theme/topic 4.1 Species at Risk recovery research is most appropriate.
Related projects:  FSP_Y051086FSP_Y062086

    Deliverables:

Oecologia 144(2):257-267
Biol. Con. 130(1):84-97
J. Anim. Ecol. 76:568-579
Can. J. Zool. 83(3):407-418
Can. J. Zool. 84(4):537-545
Final Report (0.1Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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