Analysis and improvement of linear features to increase caribou functional habitat in west-central and north-western Alberta

This project uses direct and indirect methods to determine how caribou respond to linear features at different stages of re-vegetation.

Results from this research will help us understand how direct disturbance, habitat regeneration and recreational human use of linear features (pipelines and roads) affect caribou health and habitat use.

By combining this with other ongoing  projects (Determining Response to Seismic Lines and Cutblocks) and expanding our research into the mixedwood natural subregion, we will be able to determine functional caribou habitat within the range of southern mountain and boreal caribou.

Boreal and mountain caribou are protected under SARA and ongoing assessments have documented a continued decline in caribou populations in Alberta. Range plans for boreal herds in Alberta are currently in development.  Understanding how habitat disturbance influences both caribou movement and health will help define the extent of disturbed habitat within caribou ranges, help minimise habitat disturbance in the future and will aid in directing habitat restoration where it will the most beneficial for caribou.

This study is focused within the range of two boreal caribou herds – Little Smoky and Chinchaga, and two southern mountain caribou herds – Redrock Prairie Creek and Narraway.

We will use existing animal telemetry datasets to determine animal response to re-vegetation stage of disturbed areas using new LiDAR based terrain metrics. This will be combined with field data collection on human use and activity, and genetic, pathogen and hormone analysis from caribou feces, to meet the following objectives:

  1. Determine whether caribou and predator response to roads and pipelines RoWs is influenced by the extent of re-vegetation and human use of these features, and how this varies seasonally.
  2. Assess how human activity of linear features is affected by topography, geographic barriers and re-vegetation height
  3. Determine whether activity at worksites affects the movements of caribou
  4. Use non-invasive fecal collection to monitor caribou health
  5. Assess whether the response of boreal caribou in the Chinchaga range (mixedwood upland peatland habitat) to re-vegetation stage differs from that of boreal and southern mountain caribou in conifer dominated landscapes.

This project is being carried out with the generous support of the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA) with additional support from ANC Timber Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Millar-Western Forest Products, Paramount Energy Inc., SCEK, Tolko Industries Ltd., Vanderwell Contractors Ltd.,  West Fraser Mills Ltd. and Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? Where and when moose are using linear features
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Infographic about a recent paper from the Caribou Program.
moose standing in a forest
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
Paper from the Caribou Program and University of Montana
Wolf Behaviour on Seismic Lines
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Graphical abstract for a recent Caribou Program paper.
pipeline vegetation infographic. download pdf for full text
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Graphical abstract for a recent Caribou Program paper.
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
2-page briefing note from the Caribou Program
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
Paper from the Caribou Program.
Walking the Line: Investigating ecological characteristics relating to wildlife linear feature use
Summaries and Communications | Posters
Scientific poster from the Caribou Program
QuickNotes | Summaries and Communications
3-page briefing note from the Caribou Program
Caribou Program Update: Summer 2017 Field Work #5
Blog
Blog from the fRI Research Caribou Program field crew in the Chinchaga.
fRI Research at 24th International Conference on Bear Research and Management
Blog
The Grizzly Bear and Caribou Programs were in Alaska to present our research at IBA 2016.
Caribou Program Making Connections at the 2016 North American Caribou Workshop
Blog
fRI Research was out in force at the 16th North American Caribou Workshop in Thunder Bay.
Video: Setting Up Trail Cameras with the Caribou Program
Blog
Caribou Program fieldwork doesn't have an off season. The field crew have been busily snowshoeing up and down seismic lines in caribou habitat, setting up trail cameras. In this short video, Doug shows how they are collecting data and explains some of the Caribou Program projects.
Caribou Program Update – December 2015
Blog
The Caribou Program has a lot going on these days: field work, data analysis, paper writing and a brand new project! Here are some of the highlights.
Blog
Lakehead University and Lakeland College visited fRI Research to learn about our Grizzly Bear and Caribou Programs.
michaela at a mpb plot
Blog
An update from interns with the fRI Research Caribou Program's summer field crew
Blog
Field update from the fRI Caribou Program crew working in Two Lakes and Kakwa
Blog
Update from the Hinton crew for the fRI Caribou Program
Meghan Anderson
Meghan Anderson
Research Assistant
Barry Nobert
Barry Nobert
Wildlife Biologist
Doug MacNearney
Doug MacNearney
Species At Risk Habitat Biologist
Kelsey Greenlay
Kelsey Greenlay
Technician
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Program Lead