Can partial‐cut harvesting be used to manage terrestrial lichen habitat? A review of recent evidence
Keywords:forest management, lichen woodlands, partial-cut harvesting, terrestrial lichens, woodland caribou
Recent research suggests that partial-cut harvesting techniques can be used to alter successional trajectories in pine- and spruce-lichen woodlands, allowing forest managers to extend the period of reindeer lichen growth in mid- to late seral boreal forest stands. In Quebec, a fully replicated partial-cutting trial found that terrestrial lichen abundance remained at least as high in the partial cut as in the clearcuts or unlogged stands, and that the partial cut appeared to be on a trajectory to have even more terrestrial lichen due to sustained higher growth rates. In Alberta, a retrospective study found higher terrestrial lichen abundance in an early horse-logged partial cut than in undisturbed adjacent old forests or in clearcuts. Follow-up studies of partial-cut harvesting trials in British Columbia found that group selection plots 10 years after harvesting had lichen cover equivalent to that of undisturbed forest. In contrast, studies on lichen woodlands that have been defoliated by mountain pine beetle showed a major decline in reindeer lichen cover and a corresponding increase in vascular plant cover, similar to the results of previous studies on clear-cut logging impacts. Taken together these studies provide qualified support for the hypothesis that partial-cut harvesting can be used to enhance, or at least maintain, terrestrial lichen mats used as forage by caribou.
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