Ministry of Forests

Cariboo Region Research Section

Estimating the Abundace of Arboreal Foreage Lichens: User's Guide


Purpose of this Handbook

Arboreal lichens lichens that grow on trees--are critically important winter forage for caribou in parts of British Columbia. Arboreal lichens grow abundantly on some old trees, but are generally sparse on young trees. Forest managers can make better decisions about whether, where, and how to log in caribou habitat if they have information about the abundance of these lichens.

The Field Guide, Estimating the Abundance of Arboreal Forage Lichens, describes a method of estimating lichen abundance on individual trees. The Field Guide presents a series of photos of trees with known amounts of lichen below 4.5 m, which is the part of the tree within reach of caribou in winter. The user compares the tree being assessed to the photos, and scores it as belonging in Lichen Class O to 5. The Field Guide is quick and relatively simple to use, can give similar results when used by different people, and produces assessments that are related to actual lichen biomass.

The Field Guide, however, does not offer direction on how lichen assessments fit into planning and data collection processes. It does not discuss how to sample or what to do with the data collected. This handbook is intended to fill those gaps, and help managers use the Field Guide as a tool for planning in caribou habitat. The Field Guide also has research and inventory applications, and can be used to monitor the effects of forestry practices on lichen abundance.

This handbook is based on analysis of several datasets collected during the first two years after the Field Guide was published. These include data from one reconnaissance-level project, in which several sampling methods were compared, and several block-level datasets collected for research or operational forestry purposes. The data were collected in the Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir (ESSF) biogeoclimatic zone ' in three Ministry of Forests Regions. As more data become available from more places, the characteristics of lichen data can be described more fully. The recommendations in this handbook may then be extended and refined.

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