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Biodiversity inventory in the South Okanagan
Harper, W.L.; Lea, E.C.; Maxwell, R.E. (1993). Biodiversity inventory in the South Okanagan, in: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. pp. 249-264
In: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) (1993). Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. The Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria. ISBN 0-7718-9355-8. XIII, 392 pp., more

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  • Harper, W.L.
  • Lea, E.C.
  • Maxwell, R.E.

Abstract
    The British Columbia Ministry of Environment is conducting biophysical habitat inventory at 1:20,000 scale, to classify the landscape according to its ability to support rare, threatened or endangered species in the South Okanagan. The semi-arid habitats being mapped in the South Okanagan support one of the most diverse, rare and unique assemblages of plant and animal species in British Columbia and Canada. Same species of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants occur nowhere else in B.C., and some occur nowhere else in Canada. Unfortunately, threats to this biological diversity are as many and varied as the species they adversely affect. Habitat losses caused by urban, recreational and agricultural development account for most of these threats. Cattle grazing has also reduced the capacity of these dry, sensitive habitats to support many plants and animals. Only 9% of the landscape that supports this biological diversity has been left in a relatively natural state and the Ministry of Environment considers that many species are at risk. Of the 22 species of vertebrates being considered by government for designation as endangered or threatened in B.C., 12 occur in the South Okanagan. Based on permanent physical features in the landscape, biophysical habitats are classified and mapped for the whole range of plant successional stages. These habitat units are relatively homogeneous in soils, topography, bedrock geology, vegetation and animal use. We map the present successional stage or range condition class for each habitat unit and describe an potential successional stages in a legend. From these habitat maps we win generate interpretive maps that rate habitat suitability and capability for 54 species: 32 birds, 12 mammals, 8 reptiles and 2 amphibians. Other interpretive maps win classify and rate the landscape for plant and invertebrate diversity. This mapping will help integrate planning with other resource agencies by identifying areas of high priority for habitat protection, acquisition, enhancement and species re-introduction programs.

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