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Estimating the biomass of woodland caribou forage lichens

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Lichens are an important winter food source for woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), but quantifying their abundance is difficult. Here, we present an efficient method for assessing lichen biomass at the stand level in boreal forests. We measured lichens occurring in high enough abundance to serve as a winter food source for woodland caribou in 51 boreal forest stands. Samples of each species or genus were collected from each stand and a mean abundance (cover) to biomass ratio was established. The method does not require samples to be collected or weighed, due to this predetermined relationship, and it also accounts for the variation in biomass among lichen species that are equally abundant. The variation in lichen growth between stands was assessed by means of five lichen abundance classes. The proposed method was tested in 34 stands with a wide range of ages and stem densities. The average time to complete a lichen biomass assessment was approximately 2 h. This method is an efficient and accurate tool that can assist forest managers and researchers with ecological studies on lichens or with monitoring changes in lichen biomass over time and with habitat assessments for organisms for which lichens are important, such as woodland caribou.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. 2: Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada.

Publication date: October 8, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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