Woodland caribou are found in the boreal forest of North America; in Alberta they are listed as an endangered species under Alberta's Wildlife Act. The boreal forest has historically been influenced by natural disturbances such as fire; these forests are increasingly being affected by human disturbances such as timber harvesting and oil and gas extraction. The caribou research being conducted is part of a larger cooperative study. The Boreal Caribou Research Program involves representatives from industry, government and the university. The primary objective of our research program is to examine the short and long term effects of industrial activity on caribou and their habitat. The goal is to integrate industrial activities in northern Alberta with the conservation of caribou and their forest habitat. Our long-term objective in this grant is to develop a cumulative effects simulation model that can be used as a tool to assess various land development scenarios and the consequences of these on a large ungulate like the caribou. We propose to build on the long term data set of the Boreal Caribou Research Program, in cooperation with industrial operators and other stakeholders, to combine field experiments with computer modeling approaches to assess industrial impacts at temporal and spatial scales varying from relatively short term and small scale (e.g., a portion of an individual's lifetime and its home range) to multi-generational, population level analysis (e.g., long-term changes in habitat). In so doing we hope to provide a template for Cumulative Effects Assessment of terrestrial systems that is capable of putting industrial development in the context of natural ecosystem changes at a variety of scales. Subsequent advances in the methodology and application of Cumulative Effects Assessment will provide direction to government and industry sectors with respect to integrating industrial activity and conservation of the boreal forest.
photo credit to Shawn Wasel
Last Modified:2012-06-22 |