Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y062035

    Comparison of seasonal habitat selection between threatened woodland caribou ecotypes in central British Columbia
Author: Seip, Dale R.
Imprint: [Victoria, B.C.] : [British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range], 2006
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Woodland caribou, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The objective of this project was to clarify the habitat selection patterns of woodland caribou populations (Rangifer tarandus caribou) that live in the central Rocky Mountains Ecoregion. That area represents the transition zone between the mountain ecotype and the northern ecotype of woodland caribou in British Columbia. Recovery planning for these nationally Threatened caribou herds requires a clear understanding of their critical habitat. Radio-collared caribou were monitored over 3 years within this area to determine movements and patterns of habitat use. In winter, sites used by collared caribou were visited to quantify feeding behaviour and habitat characteristics. Resource selection models were developed for each herd to describe seasonal habitat selection. The two caribou herds on the east side of the Rocky Mountains (Quintette and Moberly) were most similar in their habitat selection patterns. Those caribou selected for alpine habitat throughout all seasons. However, the Moberly herd made more use of the adjacent upper elevation forests, selecting upper elevation parkland in summer and fall, and subalpine fir forests in winter. The Parnsip caribou herd on the west side of the Rocky Mountains demonstrated typical mountain caribou ecotype behaviour. This herd avoided alpine habitat and selected subalpine fir stands in all seasons. The Kennedy Siding herd exhibited the most complex pattern of seasonal habitat selection. This herd was characterised by its use of a low elevation pine forest during the early winter. In late winter, this herd selected both alpine and subalpine fir forests. None of the herds selected low elevation spruce forests during any season, and only the Kennedy Siding herd extensively used low elevation pine. Winter field sampling found that caribou in the alpine were exclusively feeding on terrestrial lichens and other ground cover, whereas caribou feeding in subalpine forests were exclusively feeding on arboreal lichens. Kennedy Siding caribou fed on both arboreal and terrestrial lichens when they used the low elevation pine stand. The results from this project have been used to: delineate the boundary between the mountain ecotype and the northern ecotype of woodland caribou in British Columbia. The boundary between the Parsnip herd and the Kennedy Siding herd appears to be the Reynolds Creek watershed. confirm that the current Ungulate Winter Ranges for the Parnsip caribou are appropriate for this herd. delineate a new Ungulate Winter Range for the Kennedy Siding caribou herd. delineate new proposed Ungulate Winter Ranges and Wildlife Habitat Areas for the Quintette and Moberly herds. inform decisions on Mountain Pine Beetle harvesting within the Kennedy Siding early winter range.
Elena S. Jones, Michael P. Gillingham, Dale R. Seip & Douglas C. Heard.
Related projects:  FSP_Y051035
Contact: Seip, Dale, (250) 565-4125,


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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