Classification of land capability for ungulates in the nelson area

Classification of land capability for ungulates in the nelson area

Traditionally, the assessment of numbers and distribution of ungulates has often been the primary focus of short term management efforts. However, such assessments often overlook significant ungulate ranges where the land capability may not necessarily be reflected by current animal use. Low numbers of ungulates in areas of high land capability may be as a result of seral state, improper land use, geographic isolation, or biotic factors such as predation. Knowledge of ungulate habitat needs applying to land capability information provides a framework for assessment. This information is useful in providing a basis for determining regional wildlife management strategies and locating effective habitat protection activities. Additionally, because mapping utilizes a combination of wildlife expertise, vegetation, soils, terrain, and climate specialists, it helps to form predictions for habitat enhancement. This assessment examines the land capability for ungulates in the Nelson area, Selkirk and Monashee mountains, British Columbia


Table 20.1: Ungulate Capability Rationale

Climatic Factors Capability Remarks
Aridity Good There is a good balance between rainfall, temperature, and moisture in the air. This supports the growth of plants, and therefore the ungulates can enjoy an adequate supply of food. The humidity in the air is effective for balancing water levels in the soil to promote vegetation.
Climate Fair There is a fair balance of winter, and summer seasons, therefore, the climatic conditions are appropriate for the ungulates. However, the ungulates tend to experience challenges during heavy snow seasons because they interfere with food production and also cover the shrubs making it hard for the ungulates to hide from predators. During summer, the shrubs tend to fall short, and this may interfere with food production.  However, the summer season is the most fulfilling for the ungulates because they migrate to flood plains and adjacent terraces where there is an abundant supply of forage which is especially vital for the females to nourish their younger ones.
Snow Depth Fair During the early seasons of winter, snow depth is relatively low about 30m. This is good for the ungulates because they can move effectively through the snow. At this point, the shrubs and forage are still succulent and available which makes it easy for food and comfort. However, as the season progresses, snow levels become so high that it makes it difficult for the ungulates to move around comfortably. The deep snow also interferes with food production and supply.
Exposure/aspect Fair The Serlick and Monachee areas experience fair exposures. There is a fair amount of exposure to winds, temperatures, rainfall, and snow. However, a decrease in rainfall levels reduces the areas’ exposure to crop on water use. High snow levels also expose the area to flooding and cold which may be detrimental for the ungulates. Winds effects are generally low except during the winter seasons leading to huge blizzards which hurt the ungulates rates of survival and access to food.
Terrain factors Capability Remarks
Soil depth and fertility Fair The soil depth is fair because it promotes growth in the area. This is important because plant roots are not restricted and thus production is higher in volume. However, the crops and shrubs do not have extensive root systems to favor crop yield in its maximum potential greatly. Soil fertility in the area is also good enough to support plant growth. This is favorable for the ungulates because it ensures sufficient production of food.
landform Fair The area has very steep slopes sometimes above 1,200 m high. This makes it hard for ungulates to effectively move around and reach food crops in terms of shrubs. However, the terrain form is good when it comes to drainage of water during flooding. The water does not remain stationary because it can move down the steep slopes to drain the land. This helps to reduce incidences of flooding which negatively impact the reproduction and survival of ungulates.
Inundation/soil moisture Good There is enough balance in the atmosphere to ensure that soil moisture is preserved to cater for food production and humidity. The relative humidity of the area is 75% at 800. This, therefore, means that every kilo of the air in the area contains at least 75% of the maximum water storage. This is an essential factor , and from the explanation, the area has good soil moisture to support crop production which is good for food access for the ungulates and also their reproduction.


Adverse soil conditions Fair There are some adverse soil conditions in the area. As stated, there is a negative impact on the soil during winter because the conditions do not support the soil to produce sufficient food. This leads to significant shortages of food for the ungulates which negatively impacts their well being as well as reproduction rates. However, during summer, though the soil moisture may go down, there is still adequate water retention in the soil to support crop production. This is why the ungulates migrate to other areas where there are succulent shrubs and forage.


Table 20.2: Capability Matrix


  Climate factors Terrain factors
Soil Associations Aridity      Climate    Snow          Exposure


Soil       landform     Inundation   Adverse soil         Overall capability



Beatrice Good          Poor         Poor               Poor Poor             Poor           Fair               Poor                   Poor
Blizzard Good          Fair           Good             Fair Fair               Poor           Fair               Fair                     Fair
Bonnington Good          Poor         Good              Fair Fair               Fair            Fair                Poor                   Fair
Burdett  Good         Poor         Good              Fair Fair               Good       Good              Fair                      Fair
Castlegar Fair              Fair          Fair                 Poor Good            Poor         Good             Fair                       Fair
Clifty Good           Good       Fair                 Fair Good            Good        Fair                Fair                      Good
Copper Good           Fair           Good            Good Fair               Poor         Fair                Poor                     Fair
Curtis (CU) Fair              Fair           Good            Fair Fair               Fair           Fair                Fair                       Fair
Curtis (CT) Poor            Poor          Poor             Poor Poor             Poor         Fair                Poor                     Poor
Fletcher Good            Poor         Good           Poor Poor             Fair           Poor              Poor                     Poor
Kaslo Good            Good        Good           Good Good           Fair            Fair                Fair                      Good
Lawley Good            Fair           Good           Good Good           Fair            Fair                Fair                      Good
Mount Cond Good            Good         Fair              Fair Fair              Fair            Fair                Fair                      Good
Organic Poor              Poor          Fair              Poor Poor            Poor          Poor              Poor                     Poor
Salmo Good              Fair           Poor            Fair Good          Good          Fair                Fair                      Fair
Slocan Poor               Fair            Poor           Poor Fair              Poor          Poor               Fair                      Fair
Ymir Poor               Fair            Fair              Fair Poor            Poor          Poor              Poor                     Poor


From this assessment, it can be seen that the Selkirk and Monashee mountains areas have land capabilities that could be able to support ungulate habitation and reproduction to some level. However, it is crucial for management and conservation to focus on making these habitats more suitable for habitation by ensuring that they make adjustments to the areas that show little chances of habitation and also improve on land productivity. Through proper management and improvements, these areas could attain a higher degree of capability for ungulate habitation.

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