Potential Impacts of Mountain Pine Beetle and Management Actions on Grizzly Bear and Caribou Populations in West-Central Alberta

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:

  1. 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.
  2. To develop spatio-temporal models describing changes in food availability following disturbance from MPB kill, fire, harvest, or cut/burn.
  3. 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.

May 2014
1st Field Season Underway

Vegetation sampling in Little Smoky, A La Peche, Redrock and Narraway ranges

May 2015
2nd Field Season Underway

Vegetation sampling in the Chinchaga caribou range.

Fall 2015
Food Modelling Begins

Field data for caribou and grizzly bear foods analyzed

Summer 2016
Food Models Completed

Over 40 food models for caribou and grizzly bear foods developed

Fall 2016
GIS Tool Development Begins

Tool for land managers to simulate the effect of MPB on key foods

April 2014
Project Begins

Tool and final report delivered to partners.

March 2017
GIS Tool Complete

Papers in production and occasional tool improvements continue

Spring 2017
Project Complete
Impact of Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks and Treatments on Caribou and Grizzly Bear Food
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Infographic by Alyssa Bohart for a joint MPBEP-Caribou Program project.
Controlling Mountain Pine Beetle While Maintaining Caribou Forage
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Results from a Caribou Program study.
cladonia lichen
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
Paper from the Caribou, Grizzly Bear, and Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Programs.
aerial photo of the foothills with mostly green conifers, but some red-attack trees sprinkled in
Photo Galleries | Audio-Visual
Photos from fieldwork, spring and summer 2014.
Welcome (Back) to Barry Nobert!
Barry Nobert, MSc, rejoins the team as the Caribou Program's newest wildlife biologist.
Caribou Program Update – December 2015
The Caribou Program has a lot going on these days: field work, data analysis, paper writing and a brand new project! Here are some of the highlights.
Field update from the fRI Research Caribou Program
Final update on summer field season from the fRI Research Caribou Program
michaela at a mpb plot
An update from interns with the fRI Research Caribou Program's summer field crew
Update from Caribou Program's summer field crews in Rainbow Lake & Running Lake
Update from late July 2015 from the fRI Caribou Program summer crew at the Kakwa camp
From the fRI Caribou Program's field crew in Two Lakes, here's a field update for July 2015. Click on one of the photos to open the Slide Show. Dear readers:
From the fRI Caribou Program's Chinchaga crew, here's an update on field work, July 2015. Click on one of the photos below to open the Slide Show. Heli Yah! – by the MPB Chinchaga Crew, Shift 2
Barry Nobert
Barry Nobert
Wildlife Biologist
Doug MacNearney
Doug MacNearney
Species At Risk Habitat Biologist
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Program Lead
Terry Larsen
Terry Larsen
Gord Stenhouse
Gord Stenhouse