The Effects of Variable Retention Harvesting on Caribou Terrestrial Forage Lichens

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Luke Ferris Weyman
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Northern caribou depend on terrestrial lichens as a primary source of food during winter. This paper illustrates how changes in harvesting intensity affect terrestrial lichen abundance, species richness and  lichen mortality. Four silvicultural systems are examined; group selection, shelterwood, clearcut with  reserves and clearcut with dispersed retention, and their impacts on terrestrial lichen communities  discussed. It is determined that decreases in terrestrial lichen cover are correlated with removal of canopy cover, disturbances to the forest floor and the abundance of slash cover. Based on this  relationship, the group selection silviculture system is most effective at maintaining terrestrial lichens while still allowing for timber removal.