The Prince Rupert Forest Region occupies slightly more than one-quarter of the land area of British Columbia. The region encompasses a broad spectrum of physiographic and climatic units, and a multitude of landscapes, ecosystems, and habitats. Unique among the Ministry of Forests' forest regions in British Columbia, it embraces the full range from hypermaritime climates in the extreme west (one of the wettest climates in North America), to continental climates in the interior. Superimposed on this are elevational ranges from sea level to mountain peaks of several thousand metres, and a latitudinal gradient spanning 7°. This wide range of geographic diversity, combined with a variety of natural and artificial or human-induced disturbances, is reflected in an immense assortment of vegetation communities and associated fauna.
The objectives of this project were to identify and document the major known components of terrestrial biological diversity (biodiversity) in the Prince Rupert Forest Region, and to identify major information gaps. Biodiversity can be defined as the diversity of organisms, ecosystems, and interrelated processes. An understanding of the components of biodiversity is essential for developing future management strategies to maintain or enhance it, and to identify research needs. The emphasis in this study was on ecosystem and species diversity in forested areas. No attempt was made to address other components of biodiversity, such as genetic, structural, or landscape diversity. To some extent these are reflected in species and ecosystem diversity.
Two major classification systems are in use in the Prince Rupert Forest Region. The biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification (BEC) system (Meidinger and Pojar 1991) is used extensively by the Ministry of Forests and to a lesser degree by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. The ecoregion/ecosection classification, incorporating the Wildlife Habitat Classification (WHC) (see, for example, Fuhr and Edie 1989; Harcombe and Lea 1990), is used mainly by Environment. The BEC system has largely provided the framework for this project. However, through the process of producing an ecosystem synopsis, the WHC has been correlated with the BEC wherever possible, to facilitate future cross-referencing. Appendix 1 correlates ecoregions and ecosections with subzones and variants for the Prince Rupert Forest Region.
Vascular plant diversity was not specifically examined, other than for rare and endangered species. For vertebrates, our objectives were to document species diversity within forested subzones and variants, determine habitat affinities of species of interest, and develop possible management guilds and management indicator species for forestry management. The taxonomy, abundance, and distribution of both fungi and invertebrates in the region were also investigated. Marine species were excluded from the study, as were freshwater vertebrates, although they are an extremely important component in the biodiversity and productivity of forested watersheds.
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Updated November 26, 2008