Traditional behaviour and fidelity to caribou calving grounds by barren-ground caribou
Keywords:barren-ground caribou, calving grounds, learned behaviour, management, Northwest Territories, behaviour, fidelity
AbstractEvidence for the fidelity of female barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus spp.) of each herd to specific calving grounds is convincing. Involvement of learned behaviour in the annual return of those cows to the same calving grounds implies such actions are a form of «traditional» behaviour. Even wide variations in population size have not yet knowingly led to marked changes in size or location of calving grounds or prolonged abandonment of established ones. Rarely is the adoption of new calving grounds reported and emigration to another herd's calving ground or interchange between calving grounds has not yet been unequivocally documented. The calving experience of individual caribou and environmental pressures may modify the cow's use patterns of her calving grounds. The current definition of herds based on traditional calving grounds may require modification, if increasing caribou numbers result in changes in traditions. However, current data do not contradict either the fidelity to traditional calving grounds or the concept of herd identity based on that fidelity.
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