population monitoring

Content related to: population monitoring

Mealy Mountain Tuktu Knowledge Project

In order to better understand Inuit relationships to the Mealy Mountain (MM) herd, the long-term impacts of the hunting ban, and strategies for caribou management moving forward, this research examines the relationship between Rigolet Inuit and MM caribou. The main goal of this research was to determine community priorities for the research, monitoring, and management of the MM caribou, by documenting Inuit values, with the intent of enhancing the management system.

This research used a qualitative case study approach, following the principles of Inuit-led research as outlined in the National Inuit Strategy on Research. Data were collected through: a community open house and participatory mapping session, where people shared photos, stories, thoughts, and geographic references to where MM caribou herds are still being seen; semi-structured conversational interviews with 21 people from Rigolet (total interview time: 11h09). Interviews were conducted by local researchers and a graduate student. All interviews were recorded, with consent, and transcribed. Transcripts were imported into NVivo 12 software and coded inductively to facilitate additional annotations, word searches, memo writing, data visualizations, and reflections. Using a constant comparative method, the research team also held regular debriefs and teleconferences to talk about co-analyze the data.

Preliminary results of the research demonstrate a wealth of Inuit knowledge about the MM herd. The research highlights the loss of an important country food and a risk to cultural continuity by a long-standing hunting ban; the ways in which a lack of quality research led to questions about decision-making; and the lack of inclusion of Inuit rights or knowledge when management decisions were made. Research participants indicated a strong sense of not being heard by decision-makers. Moving forward, Inuit from Rigolet indicated the need to re-connect to the MM caribou through land-based initiatives and ongoing monitoring, as well as identified the need for Inuit to be more involved in, and lead, conservation and monitoring efforts. This research provides ideas and opportunities for potential interventions in the future that may strengthen cultural ties, stewardship, and enhanced levels of health equity between Indigenous peoples in the region.

Caribou Genomics: a national non-invasive monitoring approach for an iconic and model species at risk

Project Description:

This project is developing a foundational genomics platform to:

  1. enable long-term, non-invasive genomic monitoring of boreal caribou;
  2. allow for validated cross-compatibility among data generators; and,
  3. house data in an open access repository that supports analytical toolkits for use by our project partners.

The implementation of this genomic platform will allow comparisons through space and time to monitor the recovery, or continued loss, of caribou populations and their associated habitat.

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

  1. The development of a standardized methodology for generating individual specific genetic profiles, which will allow for comparable data among years, geographies and jurisdictions.
  2. The development of standardized genomics-based parameters suitable for use by Environment and Climate Change Canada as well as other project partners, that are targeted to small and declining caribou populations (affected by anthropogenic activities or climate change, e.g. southern ranges) in need of immediate management actions requiring the most comprehensive monitoring of population parameters.
  3. The generation of a platform of standardized boreal caribou genomic profiles providing the Receptor a cost-effective monitoring toolkit, access to new technologies by partners and a suitable framework for use in inter-laboratory genotype comparisons. Best practices in field collection will direct future monitoring work.

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.



Monitoring of the Torngat Mountains Caribou Herd

Project Description:

Inuit of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut have long known that a small caribou population was living year-round in the Torngat Mountains. Recognizing its unique status, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has recently identified Torngat caribou as one of eleven units for caribou conservation across Canada. In 2016, COSEWIC assessed the status of the Torngat caribou as endangered, based largely on the inherent risk associated with its small population size.

An informal Torngat Caribou Technical Committee was established in 2013 to address research needs. The Torngat Committee is a coalition of interested parties and it includes representatives from the Government of Quebec, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Nunatsiavut Government, Makivik Corporation, Kativik Regional Government (Nunavik Parks), Parks Canada, and the Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat (on behalf of the Torngat Wildlife and Plants Co-Management Board). Following discussion among the Torngat Committee, the first aerial population survey of the Torngat Mountains caribou herd was carried out in March 2014 (Couturier et al. 2015), and estimated the herd size at 930 caribou. To continue the scientific monitoring of the herd, all members of the Torngat Committee dedicated funds and/or in-kind contributions to support a second systematic population survey of the Torngat caribou herd. This was carried out in March and April 2017 following a similar distance sampling technique as was employed in 2014 (Couturier et al. 2018).

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

Main project outcomes include caribou abundance, demography, and trends on a three-year cycle.

Migratory Movements of Caribou in Northern Quebec and Labrador

This project aims at identifying the determinants of migratory routes and staging areas used by eastern migratory caribou. It will use GPS location data collected on >100 females since 2008 to determine the influence of topography, hydrography, vegetation, and snow cover on caribou migrations.

This project will allow to produce habitat suitability maps for each season and highlight potential corridors of migration. Conservation of mobile species such as migratory caribou is particularly challenging. The identification of migration routes, and understanding how habitat components affect migratory movements, are crucial to concentrate conservation efforts on key areas of the range.