Abundance and movements of caribou in the oilfield complex near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
AbstractWe examined the distribution and movements of 141 radiocollared female caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) of the Central Arctic Herd during summer, 1980-1993. Numbers of caribou locations within each of 5 quadrats along the arctic coast were totalled separately for days during which insects were active and inactive, and numbers of east-west and west-east crossings of each quadrat mid-line were determined from sequential observations. Both abundance and lateral movements of radiocollared females in the quadrat encompassing the intensively-developed Prudhoe Bay oilfield complex were significantly lower than in other quadrats (P < 0.001 and P < 0.00001, respectively). Avoidance of, and fewer movements within, the complex by female caribou are ostensibly in response to the dense network of production and support facilities, roads, above-ground pipelines, and the associated vehicular and human activity. Impaired access to this area constitutes a functional loss of habitat.
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