Networking the Spatial Structure of Boreal Caribou Populations in Western Canada
Abstract: Delineating relevant local populations of widely distributed species is a common challenge in conservation ecology. In Canada, recovery actions for boreal caribou are stratified by local population units (LPUs), but evidence supporting their boundaries varies widely. We assembled GPS telemetry from 1,586 adult female caribou across the 19 northwesternmost LPUs, spanning northern SK, AB, NT, and northeast BC. We used a network analysis to identify candidate local populations and subpopulations. We detected local population boundaries that in some cases were consistent with accepted LPUs but in other cases were not. Several caribou “communities” at smaller spatial extents were consistent with expert and local knowledge of caribou movements and support recovery planning and actions “stepped down” from entire ranges. These results have important implications for forecasting the population resiliency of caribou.
Presenter: Steve Wilson is a consulting biologist who works at technical and professional levels in strategic and operational planning for wildlife and other ecological values. He specializes in quantitative approaches to decision support and policy analysis. Steve holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Exploring the Implementation of Aggregated Harvest in Woodland Caribou Ranges
Abstract: Designing and implementing aggregated harvest sequences has been identified as a key strategy to reduce the impact of forest harvesting on woodland caribou. This approach aggregates forest harvesting into large patches and aims to emulate natural disturbance patterns, reduce access requirements, and help maintain and create larger patches of intact undisturbed caribou habitat. However, there is a lack of understanding of how the scale of aggregation influences caribou habitat, and what tradeoffs exists between harvest aggregation and other values.
In this project, FORCORP Solutions Inc. uses timber supply modelling scenarios to investigate the feasibility and impacts of implementing aggregated harvest scenarios in three of Alberta’s regional caribou planning subregions. They conduct a trade-off scenario analysis using a custom-built modeling environment to quantify how aggregated harvest will affect caribou habitat metrics, other species and values, and socio-economic considerations. This approach has the benefit of a flexible model that allows for the testing of innovative approaches, but importantly, does this in a way that is directly comparable to existing Forest Management Plans. It allows comparisons for non-timber assessments and socio-economic assessments that are part of these plans, providing a greater understanding of aggregated harvest impacts.
Presenter Bio: Logan Purdy has been a Resource Analyst at Forcorp Solutions Inc. for four years, where he has been involved with timber supply modelling, forest management planning, seismic restoration planning in caribou ranges, and growth and yield data collection, management, and analysis. He completed an undergraduate degree in B.Sc. Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta in 2016. He then went on to complete a dual-Masters degree in M.Sc. Conservation and Land Management from Bangor University (Wales) and Master of Forestry (M.F.) from the University of Alberta in 2018.
Other Available Webinar Recordings:
Recordings of ARCKP webinars are available below.
The fRI Research Caribou Program is conducting a multi-faceted project funded by the Alberta Regional Caribou Knowledge Partnership – “A study to advance harvest systems and silviculture practices for improved woodland caribou and fibre outcomes”. The project commenced in 2020 and will be complete in November 2023. To begin the project, the research team conducted a thorough review of available literature, summarizing research that describes differences in responses of caribou and caribou forage to forestry and wildfire. The review, titled Caribou, Fire, and Forestry was published in the fall of 2021. During this webinar, Laura Finnegan, Program Lead for the Caribou Program, provides an overview of the key research cited in the literature review and discusses how the ARCKP study, and other current research, compliment or expand upon this current body of knowledge.
In this presentation, Josh Killeen, a resource analyst and biologist with the consultancy FORCORP Solutions, presents findings from a recent review FORCORP conducted for the ARCKP. In this review, FORCORP identified alternative silvicultural systems applicable to Alberta’s forests using literature review and subject-matter expert interviews. These systems were carefully reviewed for their potential to alter post-harvest vegetation dynamics in ways that may be beneficial to woodland caribou, relative to existing clearcutting systems. A number of case studies from both conifer-dominated and mixedwood-dominated landscapes were reviewed in this context, as well as in the context of access requirements and economics. This led to a number of recommendations, including for a large-scale harvest planning program in caribou range, utilising a multidisciplinary team including silviculturalists and biologists.
This webinar includes two feature presentations: 1) Disentangling the effects of anthropogenic habitat alteration from climate on white-tailed deer densities (Maud Laurent, Former Research Assistant, Caribou Monitoring Unit, ABMI & Melanie Dickie, Caribou Coordinator, Caribou Monitoring Unit, ABMI) and 2) Human-made landscape features bolster white-tailed deer invasions: from behaviour to population distribution across the Alberta boreal forest (Jason Fisher, Lead at the Applied Conservation Macro Ecology Lab, University of Victoria & Cole Burton, Associate Professor, Department of Forest Resource Management, University of British Columbia).
This webinar presents key findings from an ARCKP-funded literature review on lichen transplant studies and methods. Presnters Michael Shultz, a Natural Resources Program at Portage College, and Ricky Kong, a Research Assistant at the Plant and Seed Technologies Program at CBR-NAIT, summarize previous transplant methods and techniques and highlight some important case studies. They also discuss deploying lichens at an operational scale, and the knowledge gaps that currently exist for lichen research. This review is part of a larger ARCKP project that is examining the effects of lichen fragment size and substrate type on lichen growth in both a greenhouse and field setting, with the aim to increase the abundance of lichen forage in caribou habitat.