Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y073348

    Using habitat supply modeling to establish an effectiveness monitoring plan for mountain goats in north-central BC
Project lead: McNay, Scott
Author: McNay, R. Scott
Imprint: [BC] :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Rocky Mountain Goat, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Years 2 through 5 of this project were proposed as field-based research aimed at testing uncertainties in our knowledge about range use by mountain goats; especially the effects of potential disturbance factors. A joint investigation has been established with the Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (PWFWCP) and Canfor who are conducting adaptive management focused on monitoring access to, and use of, low-elevation mineral licks by goats in the Ospika River area (Hengeveld and Wood 2003). The purpose of the work proposed here is three-fold: 1) use of habitat supply modeling to: aid identification of knowledge uncertainties, establish research hypotheses, and frame model motivated data collection, 2) use of habitat supply modeling to develop transparent and measurable management strategies, and 3) extension of adaptive management results to a higher-level planning context (i.e., landscape and population). Together, these research efforts are intended to: 1) identify criteria and indicators of development sustainability (i.e., determine a threshold level of impact that could be used in monitoring plans), and on that basis, 2) refine interim management recommendations (e.g., best management practices for the management of mineral licks and trails). Goat populations are known to withstand only low rates of adult mortality because of their relatively poor reproductive potential (Côté and Festa-Bianchet 2004). This has led goats in general, to be most successful in areas that offer conditions with ready access to escape terrain. While such conditions can occur along riverside cliffs (Mar Terr 1981), it most often occurs at high-elevation, rocky mountaintops. Despite this apparent requisite of escape from predators, goats do seek forested ecosystems either for foraging during winter in coastal climates (Smith and Schoen 1989) or for licking minerals from exposed soils during summer in interior climates . The amount of time spent by goats in low-elevation forests was held to be rather insignificant (Banfield 1974, Rice 2003) until recent studies (Hengeveld 2004). Use of mineral licks at valley bottoms is now reported more frequently (Turney et al. 2002) and our own studies have shown goats use licks at valley bottom throughout summer (M. Wood; pers. comm.; 04.09.28). Furthermore, access to these licks from high-elevation escape terrain appears to be along trails that are traditionally used by goats. Because of the apparent static nature of this resource use by goats, forest development, other industrial development, and the subsequent increase in human activity that usually follows development, is regarded by many as having detrimental impact on goat populations through: ? Displacement of goats from mineral licks; ? Elimination of access routes to mineral licks; ? Increase in access to previously unhunted populations; and ? Increased predation risk along trails . Specific objectives in 2005-2006 are to: 1) extend habitat supply modeling to incorporate population level parameters (i.e., spatially explicit population modeling) in order to identify targets for populations and seasonal ranges as we have done with models for caribou habitat supply (O’Brien et al. 2004), 2) generate mineral lick maps in support of a collaborative effort focused on identification of, and management of, previously unknown mineral licks (McNay 2004), and 3) continue our collaboration with PWFWCF and Canfor by: investigating home range and habitat use by radio-collared goats, estimating adult survival rates, and conducting a population census. The proposed research meets the FSP Sustainability Program Theme 3 'sustainable forest management indicators, targets, and monitoring systems'. In particular, we are targeting the topic under 'indicator targets and functional thresholds of sustainability'. The work also provides information required by forest licensees in development of strategies to meet Forest Planning and Practices Regulation, Section 7.1.a and 7.1.c . and aids industrial efforts toward certification.
Related projects:  FSP_Y051348FSP_Y062348
Contact: McNay, Scott, (250) 997-5700,


Executive Summary (23Kb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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