Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project M085007

    Can wildlife tree patches conserve sensitive species in MPB impacted landscapes?
Project lead: DeLong, Craig (BC Ministry of Forests and Range)
Contributing Authors: Botting, Rachel; DeLong, Craig
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
This project is designed to determine the effectiveness of mature forest reserves (i.e., landscape and stand level retention) within MPB impacted landscapes to conserve known sensitive species. Previous work has shown that cryptogams, especially those associated with dead wood, are very sensitive to changes in microclimate (e.g., light, temperature, humidity) caused by edge effects (i.e., forest fragmentation) or changes in leaf area of the canopy (i.e., canopy mortality or partial harvest) and thus are recognized as good indicators of mature/old forest habitat quality (Berglund and Gunnar 2001, Mills and Macdonald 2005). Within MPB impacted landscapes both these effects will be occurring due to the loss of leaf area of the dead lodgepole pine trees and the isolation of small patches of mature forest through harvesting. This project will examine the effect of 1) proportion of lodgepole pine in a patch, 2) size of patch, and 3) time of isolation of a patch on cryptogam species richness and abundance. An ongoing study being conducted on cryptogams within the study area will be used to inform site selection. This ongoing study is examining sites with different soil moisture regime and different tree species canopy dominance over a range of ages for stands that are at least 5 ha in size. This ongoing study will inform us on the influence of soil moisture regime and stand age on non vascular plant richness and abundance so we can control for (i.e., reduce influence of) these effects in our study. A significant advantage of examining cryptogams is that they are not sensitive to year to year fluctuations caused by factors other than those being investigated (i.e., only one field season of data is required). That is not the case for other species groups such as fungi, beetles, mammals, and birds that are often used as bioindicators and thus studies of these organisms require at least 2 field seasons of data. We will adopt field tested methods for this project that were used in the aforementioned ongoing study and have been modified from published methods for assessing cryptogam species richness and abundance. We will also collect data that will allow us to determine coarse woody debris (CWD) volume and assign log habitat types according to a previously developed classification. We will compare the CWD data collected from sampled wildlife tree patches to data previously collected from large contiguous patches of mature forest in order to determine if CWD within wildlife tree patches are representative of the variability within the mature forest across the landscape. This will help address the question of the relative quality of stands being reserved from harvest from a CWD perspective. We will examine a minimum of 10 replicates for each forest patch type. Size cutoffs based on literature from Scandinavia that suggests that cryptogam species richness levels off at 2-3ha. The current sampling approach to examine different effects will be as follows. Isolation Effects less than 2 ha reserves that have been isolated < 5yrs, 5 10 yrs, and > 10 yrs prior to sampling as well as > 5ha mature forest patches to establish baseline. All these patches will have <33% lodgepole pine within them. (40 samples required) Patch Size Effects - < 2ha, 2 5ha, and > 5ha reserves that have been isolated at least 5 years and contain < 33% lodgepole pine within them or the pine is still live. (20 additional samples required over a range of patch sizes within each category) Proportion of Pine Effects - > 3ha reserves that have < 33%, 34 66%, and > 66% lodgepole pine cover in the main canopy. Pine should have been dead for at least 5 years. (20 30 additional samples required depending on samples selected for patch size effects) We may alter this sampling strategy based on expert reviewer comments. The proposed study will assist managers in determining the appropriate size and condition (e.g., proportion of pine) of reserves required to conserve sensitive mature forest associated species in a heavily managed landscape. It will also provide an assessment of relative quality of wildlife tree patches currently being left from a CWD perspective. First Nations within the study area are actively involved in forest licenses so this will assist with their required landscape and stand level planning as well. Certain cryptogam species, particularly the feather mosses are utilized by First Nations for lining baskets. Mosses are also used in floral arrangements and therefore represent a valuable non-timber resource. This project will help determine how this resource can best be managed in a heavily managed landscape.


Final Report (0.3Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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