Canadian Forest Service Publications

Estimating the biomass of woodland caribou forage lichens. 2011. McMullin, R. T.; Thompson, I. D.; Lacey, B. W.; Newmaster, S. G. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41:1961-1969.

Year: 2011

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32729

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)


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.

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