This is a two-year study of food supply, that will determine whether Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) killed stands impact caribou & grizzly bear habitat. Results will inform managers of the urgency for alternative strategies to control MPB.
There is also a related 2018 project focused on grizzly bear and caribou behavioural response to MPB: Caribou and Grizzly Bear Response to Pine Forests Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle
Grizzly bear and caribou are listed as species at risk under SARA and co-occur across part of their range in Western Canada. Caribou are considered habitat specialists that require large tracts of intact late seral stage forest to maintain viable populations. Conversely, grizzly bears are generalist omnivores whose dietary plasticity is well suited to habitat disturbance. Managing the landscape for these two species represents a unique challenge and opportunity to develop management strategies that may minimise the potential effects of MPB, as it spreads through Alberta.
Our objectives of this project are:
- To quantify caribou and grizzly bear foods in lodgepole and jack pine stands that have not been disturbed (uncut control), and those stands that have been killed by MPB, burned, harvested, or where cut/burn control activities have occurred.
- To develop spatio-temporal models describing changes in food availability following disturbance from MPB kill, fire, harvest, or cut/burn.
- To simulate changes in food supply according to plausible management actions and MPB infestation scenarios.
This project is a collaboration between the fRI Caribou Program and Grizzly Bear Program with support from AESRD, FRIAA, and the fRI Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Program.
Vegetation sampling in Little Smoky, A La Peche, Redrock and Narraway ranges
Vegetation sampling in the Chinchaga caribou range.
Field data for caribou and grizzly bear foods analyzed
Over 40 food models for caribou and grizzly bear foods developed
Tool for land managers to simulate the effect of MPB on key foods
Tool and final report delivered to partners.
Papers in production and occasional tool improvements continue