Effects of a road system on caribou distribution during calving
Keywords:caribou, calving, roads, disturbance
AbstractIn winter 1981 - 82, a 29-km road system was built in a high-use caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) calving area near Milne Point, Alaska. Aerial surveys of this area were conducted annually during the calving period for 4 years before and 4 years after road construction. Effects of the road system on the distribution of caribou were investigated by comparing survey data obtained during these two periods. The 41 400-ha study area was partitioned into 40 quadrats; after construction (1982 - 85), significantly fewer caribou were observed within quadrats encompassing the present road system than before construction (1978 - 81). The area within 6 km of the road system was stratified into six 1-km intervals, and differences in the distribution of caribou among those strata were examined using linear regression analysis. After construction, the density of maternal females was positively correlated with distance, whereas no such relationship was apparent before construction. Density of nonmaternal adults was unrelated to distance during both periods. The results suggest that a local displacement of maternal caribou has occurred in response to roads and associated human activity.
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