Assessing the Impacts of Summer Range on Bathurst Caribou’s Productivity and Abundance since 1985


Barren ground caribou are one of the most important natural resources for northern aboriginal peoples in Canada, and their responsible management has been identified as a top priority by northern communities and governments. This study is aimed to assess the impacts of summer range forage availability and quality on Bathurst caribou’s productivity and abundance. Despite well documented effects of habitat nutrition on individual animal, few studies have been able to link nutrition and population demographics in a quantitative fashion, probably because caribou productivity and abundance could be potentially affected by many factors (e.g., habitat, harvest, predators, diseases/parasites, extreme weather, climate change, industrial development, and pollution), and yet long-term data for many of these factors are not available. By determining the upper envelope curve between summer range indicators and caribou productivity, this study made such assessment possible. Our results indicate that summer range indicators derived from long-term remote sensing time series and climate records can explain 59% of the variation in late-winter calf:cow ratio during 1985 and 2012. As a measure of caribounet productvitiy, the late-winter calf:cow ratio, together with the mortality rate, in turn determined population dynamics.

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Chen, W. , White, L. , Adamczewski, J. , Croft, B. , Garner, K. , Pellissey, J. , Clark, K. , Olthof, I. , Latifovic, R. and Finstad, G. (2014) Assessing the Impacts of Summer Range on Bathurst Caribou’s Productivity and Abundance since 1985. Natural Resources, 5, 130-145. doi: 10.4236/nr.2014.54014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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