Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y102010

    Response of woodland caribou to partial retention logging of winter ranges attacked by mountain pine beetle
 
Project lead: Dale Seip (Ministry of Forests and Range)
Contributing Authors: Seip, Dale R.; Jones, Elena
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Description:
The Kennedy Siding caribou herd is part of the nationally Threatened caribou population in the Southern Mountains National Ecological Area. There are about 160 animals in this herd. We studied the seasonal habitat use and foraging ecology of these caribou from 2002-2006 to identify critical habitat for this herd (Jones 2007, Jones et al. 2007). Mountain pine beetle (MPB) began to attack the Kennedy Siding low elevation pine-lichen winter range in 2005 so we initiated this research project in 2006 to evaluate the impact of MPB on the caribou and their habitat.

The low elevation pine-lichen winter range of this herd is managed as an Ungulate Winter Range (UWR) under FRPA. The MPB management strategy for the 2894 hectare UWR is to allow up to half the area to be salvage logged while retaining the remaining half to support the caribou until the salvaged area recovers.

The purpose of this project is:

i) to monitor the response of the caribou and their habitat to MPB, and

ii) evaluate if the UWR management practices are effective in maintaining caribou use of the area.

The Kennedy Siding UWR experienced some minor MPB attack prior to 2006, but in 2006 it experienced a major attack, and by summer 2007 over 85% of the canopy layer trees were dead. Most of the remaining live trees were attacked in summer 2007. Thus over the next few years, virtually all the trees in the UWR will be dead and going through a sequence of decay and tree fall. Several hundred hectares have been salvage logged, but most of the remaining area will be retained as unsalvaged dead forest.

We will continue to evaluate the response of the caribou and their habitat to MPB attack, and the UWR management strategy (salvaged and unsalvaged stands). Results will be compared to the 5 years of pre-MPB data, and the first 3 years of MPB attack data, for this study area.

We will continue the collection of data on:

i) timing and duration of caribou use of the winter range
ii) caribou stand type selection within the UWR (salvaged vs unsalvaged stands)
iii) caribou feeding behaviour in salvaged vs unsalvaged stands (terrestrial/arboreal lichen)
iv) snow depth and snow conditions in salvaged and unsalvaged stands
v) terrestrial and arboreal lichen abundance in salvaged and unsalvaged stands.

Methods include:

i) monitoring GPS radio-collared caribou to evaluate habitat use patterns
ii) ground trailing of caribou in winter to determine winter feeding behaviour
iii) snow measurements in the different habitat types.
iv) measurements of terrestrial and arboreal lichen abundance

We work closely with staff in the MOE, MOFR and First Nations to develop and implement caribou habitat management recommendations. Results from this study will be used to evaluate and modify the current UWR management practices if necessary. The results will also be relevant to the management of 136,672 hectares of caribou UWR in other parts of the Region that have similar management practices.
Related projects:  FSP_Y091010

    Deliverables:

Final report - Response of Woodland Caribou to Partial Retention Logging of Winter Ranges Attacked by Mountain Pine Beetle (17.0Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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