Lichens, wildfire, and caribou on the taiga ecosystem of northcentral Canada
Keywords:caribou management, forage use, forest fire, Rangifer, snow cover, winter range, lichens, Canada
AbstractTerrestrial lichens are unique organisms that are pioneers on bare sand and rock, survive desiccation and reproduce both sexually and asexually. They compete poorly with dense, aggressive vascular flora. Wildfires require organic matter as fuels, are the driving force in perpetuation of the Taiga Ecosystem in a heterogeneous environment and, if left alone, are self controlling. Caribou wintering on the Taiga are dependent on: (1) a terricolous lichen forage supply for most of the winter, (2) a heterogeneous environment to cope with predators and the changing nival environment, and (3) natural wildfires to supply these needs. Wildlife control on the Taiga winter range is not recommended as a management tool for barren-ground caribou.
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