Caribou and Grizzly Bear Response to Pine Forests Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle

In west-central Alberta, pine forests comprise much of caribou and grizzly bear habitat. This project will determine the response of these threatened species to MPB-related disturbance of these areas.

We will evaluate how MPB infestations change habitat value of lodgepole pine forests in caribou and grizzly bear habitat. Based on the models we develop, we will make a GIS tool to allow managers to predict changes to user-defined MPB scenarios.

A related project previously examined the impact of MPB attack and management actions on caribou and grizzly bear food supply: Potential Impacts of Mountain Pine Beetle and Management Actions on Grizzly Bear and Caribou Populations in West-Central Alberta

Objectives

The first objective of this research is to develop models that quantify the habitat value of lodgepole pine forest to caribou and grizzly bear, and to evaluate changes in habitat value for caribou and grizzly bear following MPB infestations (~10 years since tree death) in west-central Alberta. We hypothesize that following MPB infestation and tree death, the habitat value of pine for caribou will decrease associated with a decline in terrestrial lichens, whereas for grizzly bear the habitat value of pine will increase as vascular and herbaceous plant species increase. The second objective of this research is use the caribou and grizzly bear habitat models to develop an interactive GIS-based planning tool. The tool will allow managers to predict changes in caribou and grizzly bear habitat conditions based on user-defined MPB scenarios.

Outputs

  1. Habitat models will provide improved knowledge of caribou and grizzly bear response to pine forest unaffected and affected by MPB. Because we will conduct the analysis at multiple scales, we will be able to understand the habitat value of pine forests to caribou and grizzly bear alone and in the context of the broader landscape. Scale is an important consideration because as forest species composition and human activity levels changes across the landscape, so does habitat conditions for caribou and grizzly bear.
  2. An interactive GIS tool that integrates the caribou and grizzly bear habitat models will allow users to run MPB infestation scenarios and predict associated changes in habitat conditions.
  3. A workshop will be held for forest practitioners as an introduction on how to use the tool. Participants will be encouraged to engage the group relative to their own management questions and needs.
  4. The information and tool generated from this research will assist managers in making planning decisions that supports caribou and grizzly bear recovery.
Fall 2018
Project Begins

The team starts collecting data and creating GIS layers

Winter 2018
Model Building Underway

The team is extracting data layers and building models

Spring 2019
Caribou Models Complete

Vegetation and caribou location data combined to determine impact of MPB

Summer 2019
Analysis Complete

Report for partners drafted

Winter 2019
Caribou Models Complete

Vegetation and caribou location data combined to determine impact of MPB

forest photo in which single tree cut and burn has been practiced. stump in foreground, red needles on the ground, the rest of the forest is standing
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
This 2-page briefing note summarizes a recent paper looking at how to balance management of mountain pine beetle, grizzly bears, […]
infographic: controlling mountain pine beetle while maintaining caribou forage. download pdf for full text
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Results from a Caribou Program study.
Caribou in the Cross-fire?
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
2-page summary of a Caribou Program paper.
Caribou in the cross-fire? Considering terrestrial lichen forage in the face of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) expansion
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
Paper from the Caribou, Grizzly Bear, and Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Programs.
Caribou and Grizzly Bears Response to Pine Forests Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle | QuickNote #2
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
2-page summary of the first year of a project from the Caribou, Grizzly Bear, and Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Program.
Pine-ing for cover: caribou & grizzly bear response to mountain pine beetle infestation in west-central Alberta | Poster
Summaries and Communications | Posters
Poster presentation from the Caribou Program for ACTWS 2019.
Caribou and Grizzly Bear Response to Pine Forests Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle | QuickNote #1
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
2-page briefing note from the Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Program about a new project.
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Siobhan Darlington
Siobhan Darlington
Research Assistant
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Program Lead
Terry Larsen
Terry Larsen
Biologist