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Thesis Defence: Mapping winter food security for the Klinse-Za caribou herd
February 9 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Carmen Richter, supervised by Dr. Adam Ford, will defend their thesis titled “Mapping winter food security for the Klinse-Za caribou herd” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Biology.
An abstract for Carmen Richter’s thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
In Canada, many wildlife species are in decline, and some of these species, like caribou, are central to the food sovereignty and cultural practices of many Indigenous communities. Alongside actions by the federal and provincial governments, First Nations in northeastern British Columbia are leading recovery efforts for the Klinse-Za caribou herd. Providing natural forage during recovery actions is important for caribou during maternal pens, supplemental feeding, and habitat protection.
Since 2013, the Saulteau First Nations and the West Moberly First Nations have captured 12-22 pregnant caribou and held them in a pen for several months per year. The pen prevents predation on mothers and young. At the same time the Nations provide caribou with high quality food resources that include a mixture of commercial pellets and Cladonia lichens (C. rangiferina, C. abbuscula, C. stellaris, C. stygia, C. uncilalis) collected by the Nations. Community members are recruited to pick lichen, which is then dried, stored, and provided to the temporarily penned caribou. Understanding where lichen is available on the landscape and the rates of recovery following lichen harvest are important for the future sustainability of the caribou penning project.
Our research project aimed to quantify lichen availability for the next 5 years by:
(1) ground-truthing lichen sites to validate and re-parametrize a lichen distribution model;
(2) marking new lichen patch extents with a handheld GPS in areas where lichen occurrence, but not extent, was known to the community;
(3) monitoring lichen growth and recovery rates, following the harvest of lichen in large patches (> 3 ha)
(4) measuring lichen to quantify lichen growth at a fine scale (1m2 plots) following harvest.
Our research project led to the discovery of new lichen patches and the extension of existing patches. This will help supply caribou with supplemental food for the next 5-years of caribou recovery in this area. The 5-Year Harvest Plan includes a 1-year supply of lichen produced through increasing the extents of lichen patches, a 2-year supply of lichen based on the predictions from the model, and a 2-year supply of lichen through the re-harvest of two lichen patches.