Research Branch

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Plant Indicator Guide for Northern British Columbia: Boreal, Sub-Boreal, and Subalpine Biogeoclimatic Zones: BWBS, SBS, SBPS, and northern ESSF

Author(s) or contact(s): L.J. Beaudry, R.A. Coupe, C. DeLong, and J. Pojar
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Ecosystems
Series: Land Management Handbook
Other details:  Published 1999. Hardcopy is available.


This guidebook shows how the distribution of common forest plants changes across British Columbia's northern interior landscape due to variations in climate, terrain, and site and soil conditions. The guide contains 215 plant species or groups of species that occur in the major biogeoclimatic zones of the Prince Rupert, Prince George, and northern Cariboo Forest Regions:
- the Boreal White and Black Spruce (BWBS) zone;
- the Sub-Boreal Spruce (SBS) zone;
- the northern portion of the Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir (ESSF) zone; and
- the Sub-Boreal Pine-Spruce (SBPS) zone.

The information provided here about the indicator plants will help foresters and natural resource managers determine the moisture and nutrient regimes of different ecosystems, detect where changes between ecosystems occur, and identify site series in the biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification system. The guidebook can also be used in the review or audit of site descriptions to ensure that identification of site series is correct. It is not intended to provide information on plant identification, which is thoroughly covered in local plant identification guidebooks (Pojar et al. 1982; Roberts 1983; Vitt et al. 1988; MacKinnon et al. 1992; Johnson et al. 1995; Parish et al. 1996). Improved identification of ecosystems should result in better management prescriptions and the use of a common language with which to describe the forest.

The data were originally collected through the B.C. Ministry of Forests ecosystem classification program. These data were grouped by subzone, and then analyzed to produce a composite grid for each plant species addressed in this guidebook. The species include indicator plants and plants with sufficient data to be able to identify their distribution. The information was analyzed and compiled by Leisbet Beaudry and reviewed by forest ecologists Ray Coupé (Cariboo Forest Region), Craig DeLong (Prince George Forest Region), and Jim Pojar (Prince Rupert Forest Region). Any errors and omissions should be attributed to Madrone Consultants Ltd., as they are responsible for the final edits.

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Updated April 27, 2007