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TitleImpacts of climate-driven habitat change on the peak calving date of the Bathurst caribou in Arctic Canada
AuthorChen, WORCID logo; Adamczewski, J Z; White, L; Croft, B; Gunn, A; Football, A; Leblanc, S GORCID logo; Russell, D E; Tracz, B
SourcePolar Biology vol. 41, no. 5, 2018 p. 953-967,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20181922
PublisherSpringer Nature
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceNorthwest Territories; Nunavut; Saskatchewan
NTS65D; 65E; 65L; 65M; 66D; 66E; 74N; 74O; 74P; 75; 76; 85A; 85F; 85G; 85H; 85I; 85J; 85K; 85L; 85M; 85N; 85O; 85P; 86A; 86B; 86C; 86D; 86E; 86F; 86G; 86H; 86I; 86J; 86K; 86L; 95I; 95J; 95O; 95P; 96A; 96B; 96G; 96H
AreaReliance; Yellowknife; Rae Lakes; Lupin; Uranium City
Lat/Long WENS-123.0000 -102.0000 67.5000 59.5000
Subjectsgeophysics; Nature and Environment; Science and Technology; remote sensing; satellite imagery; ecosystems; vegetation; climate effects; biological communities; cumulative effects; Climate change; Biology; Wildlife; Habitats
Illustrationslocation maps; sketch maps; tables; flow charts; plots; time series
ProgramRemote Sensing Science
Released2018 01 30
AbstractSince mid-1980s, the population of the Bathurst barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in Canadas Arctic has declined by 93%. In order to develop and implement an effective recovery plan, it is important to know how various factors have cumulatively impacted the population decline. To contribute to the knowledge, we investigated the following two questions: how have changes in climate-induced habitat conditions impacted the peak calving date of the Bathurst caribou, and what was the implication of the impact on the population? Our results indicate that the peak calving date was impacted by changes in habitat conditions (e.g., the start date of vegetation growing season SOS) in a complex manner. Large inter-annual variations in SOS on the calving ground and summer range of the Bathurst herd were observed during 1985 and 2012, with the largest difference being 29 days. A 1-day delay of SOS in year i - 1 on the calving ground (SOScg(i - 1)) from its normal date could result in a 0.5-day delay in the peak calving date in year i, likely caused by the delay in the conception date in the previous fall. However, advances in SOScg(i - 1) did not alter the peak calving date in year i. Furthermore, a 1-day delay (or advance) in the current years SOS on the summer range (SOSsr(i)) might cause a 0.23-day delay (or advance) in the peak calving date in the current year, likely through changing the caribous gestation duration. Together SOScg(i - 1) and SOSsr(i) explained 69.1% of the variation in the peak calving date of the Bathurst caribou herd during 1985-2012, indicating the cumulative impacts on the peak calving date by the changing habitat conditions over a period of 2 years and thus the validation of the cumulative habitat impact hypothesis. Finally, our results also show that a 1-day delay in the peak calving date corresponded approximately 2-3% reduction in the birth rate of the Bathurst caribou, and thus might have been partially responsible for the population decline.

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