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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48697. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048697. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Summer resource selection and identification of important habitat prior to industrial development for the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd in northern Alaska.

Author information

1
The Wilderness Society, Anchorage, Alaska, United States of America. ryan_wilson@tws.org

Abstract

Many caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations are declining worldwide in part due to disturbance from human development. Prior to human development, important areas of habitat should be identified to help managers minimize adverse effects. Resource selection functions can help identify these areas by providing a link between space use and landscape attributes. We estimated resource selection during five summer periods at two spatial scales for the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd in northern Alaska prior to industrial development to identify areas of high predicted use for the herd. Additionally, given the strong influence parturition and insect harassment have on space use, we determined how selection differed between parturient and non-parturient females, and between periods with and without insect harassment. We used location data acquired between 2004-2010 for 41 female caribou to estimate resource selection functions. Patterns of selection varied through summer but caribou consistently avoided patches of flooded vegetation and selected areas with a high density of sedge-grass meadow. Predicted use by parturient females during calving was almost entirely restricted to the area surrounding Teshekpuk Lake presumably due to high concentration of sedge-grass meadows, whereas selection for this area by non-parturient females was less strong. When insect harassment was low, caribou primarily selected the areas around Teshekpuk Lake but when it was high, caribou used areas having climates where insect abundance would be lower (i.e., coastal margins, gravel bars). Areas with a high probability of use were predominately restricted to the area surrounding Teshekpuk Lake except during late summer when high use areas were less aggregated because of more general patterns of resource selection. Planning is currently underway for establishing where oil and gas development can occur in the herd's range, so our results provide land managers with information that can help predict and minimize impacts of development on the herd.

PMID:
23144932
PMCID:
PMC3489831
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0048697
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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