Vegetation characteristics of forest stands used by woodland caribou and those disturbed by fire or logging in Manitoba
AbstractThis study examined woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in an area known as the Kississing-Naosap caribou range in west central Manitoba. The vegetation characteristics of areas used by caribou and areas disturbed by fire or logging were measured in order to develop a model to estimate habitat quality from parameters collected during stan¬dard resource inventories. There was evidence that habitat index values calculated using a visual score-sheet index could be used as the basis to relate parameters commonly collected during resource inventories to habitat suitability. Use of this model to select long and short-term leave areas during forest management planning could potentially mitigate some of the negative impacts of forest harvesting. Abundance of arboreal lichen and wind-fallen trees were important predictor variables in the suitability model, but their inclusion did not explain more variance in habitat suitability than models that did not include them. Extreme post-fire deadfall abundance may play a role in predator-prey dynamics by creating habitat that is equally unsuitable for all ungulates, and thus keeping both moose and caribou densities low.
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