An integrated assessment of Porcupine caribou seasonal distribution, movements, and habitat preferences for regional land use planning in northern Yukon Territory, Canada
Keywords:concentrated use areas, conservation, cumulative effects, cumulative impacts, habitat suitability, home range, local knowledge, wildlife management, Rangifer, thresholds, traditional ecological knowledge, utilization density, Yukon
AbstractThis study was undertaken to improve understanding of Porcupine caribou herd distribution, movements, and habitat preferences to assist with developing a regional land use plan for the North Yukon Planning Region, Yukon Territory. Three different methods were used to identify current and historical patterns of caribou distribution and habitat preferences within the region to prioritize conservation areas. Two of the approaches focused on incorporating information on caribou distribution and migrations from scientific and local knowledge, while the third focused on identifying and mapping habitats suitable for supporting caribou. Local knowledge dating back to the 1930s and two decades of satellite telemetry data confirmed that most of the planning region is used by the Porcupine caribou herd and highlighted areas of concentrated use. Maps of suitable winter habitat derived from expert opinion ratings of habitat use did not agree with the other information sources. The local knowledge and satellite telemetry analyses were used to identify spatially explicit priority areas for caribou conservation and the results were applied to develop conservation recommendations for a draft regional land use plan. The plan will be submitted to government approval bodies for review in the spring of 2007. The success in implementing conservation strategies for the Porcupine caribou herd will be reviewed and evaluated following adoption of a final approved plan.
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