Woodland caribou, a Schedule 1 ‘threatened’ species under the Canadian Federal Species at Risk Act, use alpine ecosystems in the mountainous South Peace region of British Columbia for core winter habitat, in part because they are able to crater for terrestrial lichen beneath the relatively thin snow pack on the windswept mountain peaks. A number of proposed and operating open pit coal mine developments will create disturbances within these alpine ecosystems. An Implementation Plan for the Ongoing Management of the South Peace Northern Caribou has been created by the province of B.C. to direct actions for South Peace region caribou population recovery, and part of the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan that must be created for disturbances in caribou core habitat is a habitat restoration plan. A component of the alpine habitat that must be restored is terrestrial lichen that woodland caribou rely on for winter forage; however, published studies about the restoration of terrestrial lichens are scarce. The majority of studies obtainable were small-scale trials or exploratory studies in reindeer range in northern European boreal forest, or in forested and alpine ecosystems in B.C. This paper reviews the literature on the feasibility of transplanting terrestrial lichen, and interprets the results for application in alpine caribou habitat restoration. Three main areas where further research is required to develop reindeer lichen transplantation techniques are suggested: methods to promote lichen propagule retention on reclaimed sites; investigating sources and collection methods for lichen propagules; and techniques for storage of viable lichen propagules.


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pp. 22-29
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