Understanding the relationship between animal populations and the vegetative...
Show moreUnderstanding the relationship between animal populations and the vegetative heterogeneity of their native habitat is becoming increasingly important as natural resource extraction, such as mining, becomes a dominant influence on landscapes in the southerninterior of British Columbia. Identifying how wildlife (particularly herbivores) are able to use anthropogenic plant species will allow us to better manage the quality and quantity of forage in these anthropogenic ecosystems. Reclamation initiatives at Highland Valley Copper Mine focus on converting waste-rock and dump site locations into land that supports plant communities composed of agronomic and native species. The presence of American Pikas (Ochotona princeps) in this and surrounding landscapes creates an opportunity to investigate the plants harvested by these animals compared to that available, and also how this pattern varies between natural and anthropogenic habitats. In August 2013, I surveyed the plant communities surrounding a variety of pre-established pika den sites, finding that native and anthropogenic locations showed little similarity in terms of plant species diversity, particularly in terms of the most abundant species within each location. An examination of pika haypiles (harvest piles) in October 2013 showed that although common plants were being harvested, the animals also used plants that were less common. Plant species identified as most abundant within the haypiles were primarily shrubs, forbs and grasses. I also determined that the plants harvested by the pikas were not necessarily the most abundant nor the most nutritional. Overall, this study revealed the foraging and dietary plasticity of pikas in this region, and in tandem with a larger, overarching project, provides an improved understanding of the pika population inhabiting this atypical environment.
- Marisa Leung (author), Karl Larsen (thesis advisor), Wendy Gardner (committee member), John Karakatsoulis (committee member), Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Science (Degree granting institution)
- American pika--Food, QL 737 .L33 L48 2014
- Thompson Rivers University