Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071163

    Chanterelle mushroom habitat modelling and inventory
Project lead: Ehlers, Tyson
Author: Ehlers, Tyson D.
Imprint: Winlaw, BC :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Chanterelle, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
This project builds on previous research undertaken as part of the Northern Vancouver Island Integrated Non-Timber Forest Product Demonstration Project (Ehlers and Fredrickson 2002, Ehlers 2004), funded in part by Forest Renewal BC (PAR0211-03) and later the Forest Investment Account (R02-25). Early work on this project began as a general survey of North Vancouver Island (NVI) commercially important fungi and their habitats and later the focus shifted to detailed investigations of habitat characteristics and productivity of the Pacific golden chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus Corner). Although the focus was primarily on commercial fungi, other fungal species were identified and documented since distributional data are sparse for many fungal species in B.C. Even for commercially important species such as Pacific golden chanterelle, there were few vouchered specimens and little habitat information for NVI prior to this study. The primary goal of the project is to conduct an inventory of Pacific golden chanterelle habitat in TFL 37 on NVI. The project also investigates co-management of timber and chanterelle resources. The collection of spatially-linked, quantitative chanterelle habitat and productivity information will permit the modelling of chanterelle yields under varying forest management scenarios. The specific research questions the project will address are: 1. What are the habitat characteristics of commercially productive chanterelle habitat on NVI? 2. What is the distribution and abundance of commercially productive chanterelle habitat in TFL 37 on NVI? 3. What is the average productivity of chanterelles (kg/ha/yr) from commercially productive habitat in TFL 37? 4. What relationships exist between past forest management activities and chanterelle productivity and what are the implications to compatible management of chanterelles and timber? Chanterelle Habitat Characterisation and Mapping During the course of non-timber forest product (NTFP) inventory work conducted on northern Vancouver Island from 1999 –2003, a total of 230 fungal species or species groups were documented from 132 sites in TFL 37 and TFL 6. Of these, 40 have commercial value in B.C. (Berch and Cocksedge, 2003). One of the most significant in terms of total economic worth, the Pacific golden chanterelle, was detected on 86 sites representing a range of forest conditions and ecosystem types. Thirty-three of these sites were rated highly productive for chanterelles and shared similar habitat attributes. A database was created linking mushroom species to habitat information recorded for each site. Site records included location references, general physiographic properties (elevation, slope and aspect), BEC and forest cover data. Additional data on soil, vegetation, and stand characteristics were collected for some sites. For all sites where Pacific golden chanterelle was detected, productive potential was assessed in relative terms (high, medium or low) based on our experience and local knowledge of chanterelle habitat in the area. The biogeoclimatic and forest cover characteristics related to areas of high, medium and low chanterelle productive potential were summarised to build a predictive chanterelle habitat model. Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) used this information to generate 1:50,000 GIS maps for TFL 37 showing areas of predicted chanterelle productive capability (Figure 1). The maps showed that the majority of the land base encompassed by TFL 37 had low potential to produce chanterelle mushrooms. Areas of medium and high productive potential were mostly confined to the bottom of the main Nimpkish Valley and its tributaries in accordance with the elevational distribution of ecosystem and forest cover types specified. Figure 1. Sample portion of a predictive chanterelle habitat map produced by Canadian Forest Products for TFL 37. Green indicates high productive potential; yellow indicates medium productive potential, all other areas expected to be low productive potential. Proposed Future Work While there is some anecdotal evidence to support that the model is indeed useful, the habitat maps need to be updated and ground-truthed to test their accuracy. A systematic approach to field-checking the predicted relative abundance of chanterelles is proposed that will provide confidence in habitat type/productivity correlations. A reliable habitat model will enable current and future projections of chanterelle habitat supply and mushroom production for the landbase. Chanterelle Productivity Monitoring Three stands with similar ecological and forest cover attributes in the Nimpkish valley (TFL 37) were previously selected for monitoring chanterelle productivity. The original objective was to estimate total chanterelle productivity (kg/ha/yr) from commercially productive habitat. Accurate productivity estimates could then be extrapolated to the landbase according to the habitat model. There are unique challenges to monitoring abundance of chanterelles and other ectomycorrhizal mushrooms. Since mushrooms are the 'fruit’ of the fungal organism which is embedded in the soil substrate, they only appear ephemerally when conditions are right for fruiting. Timing sampling with fruiting periods is therefore critical. Chanterelles are spatially distributed in clusters across the landscape. Sampling intensity and plot sizes must therefore be sufficiently large to capture their distribution. There is considerable variability in fruiting both within and between seasons. To obtain reliable productivity estimates, monitoring needs to be done frequently during the fruiting season and over multiple years (Liegel, 1998; Pilz et al., 1999). A minimum of three years is needed to capture the annual variability in fruiting patterns. We already have one year of productivity data; an additional 2 more years of sampling will strengthen the data and provide the confidence needed to publish the results in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Proposed Future Work Plots will be re-established on the 3 previously selected sites and monitored throughout the mushroom fruiting season over 2 years. Compatible management of chanterelles and timber According to our earlier work, highly productive chanterelle habitat is associated with 50-80 year old second growth Western hemlock and Douglas-fir forests resulting from earlier logging. Some of the best commercial chanterelle stands on northern Vancouver Island have been thinned in the past. A retrospective analysis of chanterelle abundance related to silviculture histories could identify compatible timber and chanterelle co-management strategies. A long-term prospective study on the response of chanterelle productivity to thinning in young forests in Oregon found that, although chanterelle productivity drops significantly in the years immediately following stand thinning, it rebounds and might even surpass pre-thinned levels over time (Pilz and Molina, In press). The researchers hypothesize that thinning young stands might affect chanterelle productivity through several factors: by altering the density and health of host trees and thereby impacting food supplies for the fungus (ectomycorrhizal fungi depend on host trees for carbon in exchange for enhanced nutrient uptake); changing environmental conditions near the forest floor that influence fruiting; and by altering soil conditions. If chanterelle production can be improved from suitable younger stands through early stand thinning, then management activities that enhance timber would have the added benefit of sustaining or enhancing chanterelle production, thereby increasing the total value of the landbase. Proposed Future Work Chanterelle productivity will be compared among thinned and unthinned stands. Stand characteristics will be described in detail around chanterelle fruiting locations.
Related projects:  FSP_Y082163FSP_Y093163
Contact: Ehlers, Tyson D., (250) 226-7063,


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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