habitat monitoring

Content related to: habitat monitoring

Sustainability of Arctic Communities

How will climate change affect the sustainability of Arctic villages over the next forty years? This question motivated a collaboration of 23 researchers and four Arctic communities (Old Crow, YT Canada; Aklavik, NT Canada; Fort McPherson, NT Canada; and Arctic Village, AK USA) in or near the range of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. We drew on existing research and local knowledge to examine potential effects of climate change, petroleum development, tourism, and government spending cutbacks on the sustainability of four Arctic villages. We used data across eight disciplines to develop an Arctic Community Synthesis Model and a web-based, interactive Possible Futures Model. Results suggested that climate warming will increase vegetation biomass within the herd’s summer range. However, despite forage increasing, the herd was projected as likely to decline with a warming climate due to increased insect harassment in the summer and potentially greater winter snow depths. There was a strong negative correlation between hypothetical, development-induced displacement of cows and calves from utilized calving grounds and calf survival during June. The results suggested that climate warming coupled with petroleum development would cause a decline in caribou harvest by local communities. Because the Synthesis Model inherits uncertainties associated with each component model, sensitivity analysis is required. Scientists and stakeholders agreed that: 1) although simulation models are incomplete abstractions of the real world, they helped bring scientific and community knowledge together; and, 2) relationships established across disciplines and between scientists and communities were a valuable outcome of the study.


Métis Nation of Alberta Region 5 Caribou Wildlife Monitoring Program

Project Description:

Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) Region 5 developed a narrative plan to support a Caribou Monitoring program.

Region 5 implemented a Community-Based Caribou Monitoring Initiative. The Initiative will aim to inform our citizens of the Caribou Monitoring Program and to identify and gather information on cultural and environmental indicators on Traditional Land Use Areas (TLUAs) where Caribou may live in Region 5.

The Initiative were structured in three overlapping phases:

  1. Métis Community Engagement in 2022-2023, and
  2. Training on Caribou and planning regarding the installation of the Wildlife Camera, and
  3. Supporting field work installing the cameras in January-February 2023.

The initiative was carried out on a Metis Trappers area within the Red Earth Caribou Range in northern Alberta and one other area.

The community engagement activities will be undertaken with Métis people from Slave Lake, Wabasca, and the High Prairie area. All the work was planned and managed by the Region V consultation advisor with the help of a technical assistant.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

  • Training and information for Metis citizens on the Caribou and familiarization with Species at Risk.
  • Practical technical knowledge on the installation of the cameras in the bush and their purpose involving Metis citizens.
  • Analyze the presence of Caribou through wildlife camera image captures and the associated data.
  • Draft a report for Metis leadership and citizens.

Natural Recovery on Low Impact Seismic Lines in Northeast British Columbia

Project Description

WSP Golder (formerly Golder Associates Ltd) and Explor were supported by the Research and Effectiveness Monitoring Board (REMB) of the BCIP initiative, with funding provided by the BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society (BC ORGRIS). The objective of this project was to track the accumulation and measure the recovery trajectory of mulched low impact seismic lines prepared between 2005 and 2015. A total of 188 low impact seismic lines were sampled within the Maxhamish, Snake-Sahtaneh, and Calendar boreal caribou ranges during the summer of 2016. These sites ranged from 2 to 11 years in age, most sites were exclusively mulched, and had a north-south or east-west orientation. The forest type, line width, line orientation, and year the line was cut were compared among sites.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes

Controlling for forest type, the project’s results suggest that low impact seismic lines supported shrubs greater than 0.8 m high within 10 years. Further, line orientation, mulch distribution pattern and ecosite type all had a significant effect on the average height of regenerated vegetation on low impact seismic lines. In addition, lines on low impact seismic lines supported fewer game trails than conventional seismic lines in the region.



The Boreal Caribou Ecological Model

The Boreal Caribou Ecological Model

Developed by the Habitat Restoration Working Group (HRWG) of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium (NBCKC).

Habitat restoration is expected to play a key role in the recovery of boreal woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada. Population declines are correlated with the proportion of ranges affected by anthropogenic and natural disturbances and reversing these impacts is expected to benefit caribou populations. However, there are various mechanisms that lead from habitat stressors to caribou declines, and the effects of these mechanisms differ among ranges.

Understanding the ecological pathways driving observed relationships can inform restoration planning by:

  1. directing treatments towards the most critical, range-specific mechanisms;
  2. identifying possible confounding factors that need to be addressed; and,
  3. supporting adaptive management by generating testable hypotheses and clarifying monitoring needs.

Here we present a conceptual Boreal Caribou Ecological Model developed by the Habitat Restoration Working Group of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium. The model is composed of 14 factors and associated relationships that generate pathways leading from a variety of landscape disturbance stressors. The model does not capture all possible factors in the system, but only those that are likely exerting significant effects. Nor does it address specific restoration treatment options but it can inform the design of treatments by identifying the functional effects that treatments should be addressing.

Caribou survival and recruitment are affected directly by predation, nutrition, disease and hunting. All of these link back to one or more habitat stressors that drive the national disturbance model (i.e., fire, insect pests, forest alteration/clearing and linear development). The individual relationship pathways interact with each other and can also be affected by external factors. The habitat stressors alter forage available to caribou and to other primary prey, the distribution and abundance of primary prey, associated predators and of humans, and ultimately cause population declines via lower caribou survival and reproductive success.

A key next step for the conceptual model is the development of appropriate response metrics to monitor response to restoration efforts. This would provide the means to compare the relative effects of different drivers among ranges and would highlight key knowledge gaps. The model would then provide a complete framework for adaptive management as habitat restoration is implemented.

The Boreal Caribou Ecological Model

links to the Tools developed by the Habitat Restoration Working Group:

  • The Boreal Caribou Ecological Model (current page)

To learn more about caribou habitat restoration please visit our 'Caribou Habitat Restoration' page [under development].

A Time-series Assessment of Habitat and Connectivity for Caribou in Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Description:

The primary scope of this project will be an assessment of historical, current, and predicted caribou ranges and space use in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This will include time-series analysis of habitat characteristics and connectivity in order to determine if there have been changes in use of land cover type and patterns of movement by caribou over the past 40 years and, if those changes can be linked to changes in cover type or land use. The project will also complete an assessment of habitat availability and connectivity under different climate change scenarios.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

There are several general objectives of this project

  1. Delineate and quantify areas of the landscape utilized by caribou in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  2. Delineate and quantify landcover types found in areas utilized by caribou.
  3. Delineate and quantify changes in landcover in areas utilized by caribou over time.
  4. Where possible identify caribou range shift over time.
  5. Determine the relationships between any observed caribou range shifts and any changes found in land cover types over time.
  6. Compare/augment results with traditional knowledge data.
  7. Determine potential impacts of climate change scenarios on caribou habitat availability and connectivity.
  8. Generate information to support mitigation of road mortality through (i) analysis of movement patterns and space use relative to roads, (ii) selection of roads as a habitat feature, and (iii) generate a predictive map of relative risk along roads by comparing movement data and georeferenced data on road mortality compiled by the province and Parks Canada with factors such as road class (e.g. speed limit or road type) and surrounding habitat.
  9. Mobilize project results and outputs so that they are available to, and usable by, a range of end-users.


Recovery of Terrestrial Lichens Following Wildfire in the Boreal Shield of Saskatchewan: Early Seral Forage Availability for Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou)

Investigation into short-term and long-term progression of terrestrial forage lichen cover following wildfire in the Boreal Shield of northern Saskatchewan.

Based on forage lichen cover alone, we can conclude that Jack Pine stands as young as 21-30 years may provide a more suitable supply of forage cover for woodland caribou. Results explain how woodland caribou have persisted in an environment with high fire frequency and extent and that it may be more appropriate to include two phases of caribou habitat availability in models rather than applying a single threshold after which habitat is deemed suitable.