Use of summer habitat by caribou on the north slope of a mountain near the Macmillan Pass, N.W.T.
Keywords:habitat ecology, woodland caribou, Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories
AbstractHabitat use by woodland caribou was investigated by counting pellet-groups, sampling phytomass, and evaluating topography in nine habitat-types on the north slope of an unnamed mountain near Macmillan Pass, N.W.T. Caribou pellets were most abundant in high elevation habitat-types, and pellet density was greatest in an alpine Lichen-Grass habitat-type with a slope of <1°. The high density of pellets in alpine areas may have resulted from of the use of cool, windy, alpine habitats by caribou seeking relief from insect harassment. There were no apparent relationships between pellet abundance, and phytomass of mosses, lichens, or graminoids, possibly as a result of caribou feeding and defecating in different habitats. The occurrence of pellets with a coalesced morphology in the barren Lichen-Grass habitat-type provided indirect evidence in support of a feeding cycle, whereby caribou visit lush habitats to feed, and return to open, alpine habitats to rest and ruminate.
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