Determining Sustainable Levels of Cumulative Effects for Boreal Caribou

Authors

  • TROY SORENSEN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of Alberta, Provincial Building 203, 111 54 Street, Edson, AB T7E 1T2, Canada
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    • 5202–2 Avenue, Edson, AB T7E 1×5, Canada

  • PHILIP D. MCLOUGHLIN,

    1. Alberta Research Council, P.O. Bag 4000, Vegreville, AB T96 1T4, Canada
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    • Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada

  • DAVE HERVIEUX,

    1. Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of Alberta, 1701 Provincial Building, 10320 99 Street, Grande Prairie, AB T8V 6J4, Canada
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  • ELSTON DZUS,

    1. Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., Box 8000, Boyle, AB T0A 0M0, Canada
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  • JACK NOLAN,

    1. Boreal Caribou Committee, 6620 Highway 16A, Box 670, Vegreville, AB T9C 1R7, Canada
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    • 5134–50 Avenue, Vegreville, AB T9C 1M4, Canada

  • BOB WYNES,

    1. Boreal Caribou Committee, 6620 Highway 16A, Box 670, Vegreville, AB T9C 1R7, Canada
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    • Forest Service, Saskatchewan Environment, Box 3003, Prince Albert, SK S6V 6G1, Canada

  • STAN BOUTIN

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, CW-405 Biological Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
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troy.sorensen@telus.net

Abstract

Abstract: Direct and indirect effects of industrial development have contributed, in part, to the threatened status of boreal ecotype caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Alberta and Canada. Our goal was to develop a model that would allow managers to identify landscape-scale targets for industrial development, while ensuring functional habitat for sustainable caribou populations. We examined the relationship between functional habitat loss resulting from cumulative effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbance, and the rate of population change (Λ) for 6 populations of boreal caribou in Alberta, Canada. We defined functional habitat loss according to 2 variables for which we had a priori reasons to suspect causative associations with Λ: 1) percentage area of caribou range within 250 m of anthropogenic footprint, and 2) percentage of caribou range disturbed by wildfire within the last 50 years. Multiple regression coefficients for both independent variables indicated significant effects on Λ. The 2-predictor model explained 96% (R2) of observed variation in Λ among population units (F2,3 = 35.2, P = 0.008). The model may be used to evaluate plans for industrial development in relation to predicted wildfire rates and goals for caribou population growth rates.

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