Rangifer tarandus

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Scientific Name
Rangifer tarandus
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  • Data package
    Data from: Science update for the South Peace Northern Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou pop. 15) in British Columbia
    (2019-08-27) Seip, Dale R.; Price, Elena
    All caribou in British Columbia belong to the woodland subspecies (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and are further classified into three ecotypes based on differences in habitat use, behaviour and migration patterns. Approximately 17,000 northern ecotype Woodland Caribou reside in the province. This document focuses on seven herds belonging to this population found in the southern Peace region of BC (South Peace Northern Caribou, SPNC). These herds are referred to as the Graham, Moberly, Scott, Burnt Pine, Kennedy Siding, Quintette and Narraway. There are approximately 1,000 SPNC in BC The following summarizes the designations that apply to SPNC, which are designated as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. They are listed as Threatened in Canada on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. In BC, the SPNC are ranked S3 (special concern, vulnerable to extirpation or extinction) by the Conservation Data Centre and are on the provincial Blue list. The BC Conservation Framework ranks the SPNC as a priority 2 under goal 2 (prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk). They are protected from capture and killing, under the BC Wildlife Act. Caribou are also listed as a “Category of Ungulate Species” for which an Ungulate Winter Range (UWR) may be legally established under Section 11(3) of the Government Actions Regulation of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). UWRs contain habitat necessary to meet the winter habitat requirements of an ungulate species. Caribou are also listed as a "Category of Species at Risk" for which a Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA) may be legally established under Section 11(1) of the Government Actions Regulation. WHAs for caribou may be established to protect habitat required for calving, rutting, matrix/connectivity and mineral licks. UWRs and WHAs established under FRPA are also recognized under the Oil and Gas Activities Act. Recovery is considered to be biologically and technically feasible. The seasonal habitat use patterns of SPNC vary among herds, but generally in winter, they will select low-elevation forests (low-elevation winter habitat) and/or windswept alpine ridges (high-elevation winter habitat). In summer, certain herds use and select alpine and subalpine habitat, while other herds may use low-elevation boreal forest habitat. Use of high-elevation habitat provides some spatial separation between SPNC and predators such as grey wolves (Canis lupus) because these wolves primarily use low-elevation forest where the density of other ungulate species is higher. The primary cause of known adult mortality of SPNC is predation, primarily wolf predation. Other species including bears, wolverines (Gulo gulo) and eagles can be significant predators, particularly on calves. Any habitat change that compromises the spatial separation between caribou and their predators can compound this threat by increasing the risk of predation. Forestry-related activities have impacted SPNC and their habitat and are expected to do so into the future. Present-day energy production and mining are the most imminent industry-related threats to SPNC and their habitat. Impacts associated with forestry activities and energy and mining development include habitat loss, alteration and fragmentation and displacement of caribou from preferred habitats. Alteration of habitat may include the reduction of the availability of forage and/or the facilitation of habitat into early-seral forest, which supports more abundant early-seral ungulates (e.g., moose) and their predators. Most linear corridors such as access roads, seismic lines, pipelines and all- weather roads associated with energy production into the alpine increase SPNC risk to predation and have the potential to displace caribou from preferred habitats. Effluents and pollutants associated with energy production may also pose a risk to SPNC. The overall calculated and assigned threat impact that is observed, inferred, or suspected to be directly or indirectly effecting the ecology of SPNC over the next 10 years is very high (75% population declines).
  • Data package
    Data from: Study "Reindeer movement in East Iceland"
    (2022-04-07) Ágústsdóttir, Kristín; Þórisson, Skarphéðinn G.
    Reindeer live wild in the East of Iceland. Their numbers and spread have increased since 1940. Throughout most of that period, the Snæfells herd has been the most important herd. In 2003 construction to prepare the largest hydro power plant in Iceland was started in the middle of an important summer and calving area. From 2002, the East Iceland Nature Research Center has monitored the impact of the construction of the Kárahnjúkar power plant on the Snæfells herd. During the construction period, the physical condition of the animals was generally good due to mild winters. Direct effects of the project on the animals included the inundation of natural pastures and the destruction of others due to the development of new infrastructures. The main indirect effect was likely the increase in road kills as more reindeer were hit by cars due to traffic in previously pristine areas. However, the distribution of animals changed on both sides of Háls (the area where Hálslón reservoir was created in 2006), even before its construction started. In 2002, the main summer pastures of Snæfellsherd moved from Vesturöræfi just east of Háls to Fljótsdalsheiði further east. The number of animals in Fljótsdalsheiði increased until 2009, but in 2011 and 2013 there were fewer animal in the Snæfells herd than had been seen for five decades. This was mainly due to increased hunting and a change in the distribution, as the animals seemed to have moved from the classical Snæfellsherd areas to adjacent areas. In Kringilsárrani (west of Háls) the males disappeared from 2006, just before the main construction started in Háls. The number of animals there also fluctuated during the construction period. In Vesturöræfi, we observed an increase in vegetation productivity, alongside a diminution in sheep density and an increase in the abundance of pink-footed geese during the construction period. Changes in the abundance and distribution of the Snæfells herd after 2000 are likely linked to changes in weather conditions, the cumulative long-term effects of the power plant construction and disturbance, and the increased flow of tourists into the previously pristine area. Research with 8 GPS collared female reindeer in Snæfellsherd from 2009-2011 revealed a significant difference in travel behaviour and home range size according to the seasons of the year. The average size of the total home range for the different herds was 949 km^2 with the largest home range at 1,424 km^2. The largest home range for an individual cow was 1,558 km^2. Home ranges were generally smaller during the breeding season and larger during the hunting season. There was a strong positive relationship between the seasonal running speed of reindeer and the home range sizes. Moreover, animals ran significantly faster when the ambient temperature was high. There were no obvious correlations with other climatic variables. The different sub-herds of the Snæfells herd grazed in different areas. The herd belonging to hunting area 1 most commonly grazed in sparsely vegetated areas and dwarf willow scrub, while the herd belonging to hunting area 2 most commonly used dry sedge heath and sedge fens. Reindeer with GPS collars seemed to avoid cabins, but other human infrastructures appeared to have little effect on their movement. During the hunting season, they travelled faster when in proximity to roads, trails, and cabins. It was not possible to identify obvious deterrent effects of the construction of Kárahnjúkar power plant on reindeer movements in Snæfellsöræfi, as no animals were tagged with GPS prior to the construction of the power plant.