Analysis and restoration of seismic cutlines in Southern Mountain and Boreal caribou range in west-central Alberta

Starting in 2013, this project is looking at how caribou and wolf behaviour is related to cutlines.

Using new LiDAR-derived maps of caribou habitat, we will determine how caribou and their predators respond to seismic cutlines. Results from this research may be used to guide well-directed, science-based restoration of caribou habitat.

Under the federal boreal recovery strategy (Environment Canada 2012) at least 65% of the habitat within the range of each caribou herd must be undisturbed. Disturbed habitat includes seismic cutlines, cutblocks, roads, wellsites and burned areas, and is considered ‘disturbed’ until it is no longer visible on aerial photographs. It is unknown whether this reflects disturbed habitat from a caribou perspective.

This project will use new technologies; specifically LiDAR based terrain metrics, to determine how caribou and their predators respond to the re-vegetation stage of previously disturbed areas. The overall aim of this project is to produce data that can be used to inform science-based, effective, habitat restoration that will be the most beneficial for caribou. There are 3 primary objectives:

  1. To use existing animal location data (caribou, wolves, grizzly bears) to determine whether inclusion of re-vegetation stage (tree height) of previously disturbed areas alters our understanding of how animals respond to habitat disturbance – including evaluating whether currently accepted buffers (500m for all disturbed habitat except burns) apply across all stages of re-vegetation.
  2. To evaluate how animals respond to active human use of seismic cutlines
  3. To determine what topographic features (e.g. slope, wetness, vegetation height) encourage recreational human use of seismic lines.

The deliverables of this project will be a GIS-based inventory of seismic cutline features across the study area classified according to their reforestation stage, level of human use, impact on caribou and potential for restoration success.

This project is a joint project between the fRI Research Caribou Program and Grizzly Bear Program and is being carried out in collaboration with AESRD, the University of Montana, the University of Calgary and University of Alberta, and with the generous support of the Foothills Landscape Management Forum.

Spring 2014
Lidar based terrain metrics

Complete

Spring 2014
Fieldwork

Summer and winter fieldwork in ALP and LSM complete

Spring 2014
Fieldwork - new

Crews are now collecting data in the Narraway & Redrock Prairie Creek ranges

Spring 2014
Analysis of human use data

Analysis on year one data complete

Spring 2014
Analysis of animal data

Preliminary data analysis complete

Spring 2014
Map of priority areas for restoration

additional analysis underway

Preliminary map produced

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
Which Linear Feature Characteristics Relate to Wildlife Use?
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Infographic by Sunny Tseng about a Caribou Program paper.
elk walking down a grassy linear feature in a coniferous forest
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
A paper by from the Caribou Program.
Wolf Behaviour on Seismic Lines
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Graphical abstract for a recent Caribou Program paper.
Predicting Off-Highway Vehicle Use on Seismic Lines
Summaries and Communications | Infographics
Graphical abstract by Jennifer Hird for a recent Caribou Program paper predicting OHV use on seismic lines.
Motorized Activity on Legacy Seismic Lines: A Predictive Modeling Approach to Prioritize Restoration Efforts
Scientific Publications | Peer Reviewed Papers
Peer reviewed paper from the Caribou Program.
A GIS Tool for Measuring Travel Distance to Seismic Lines
Blog
A tool created by the GIS Program measures travel distance between seismic lines and the nearest town for caribou conservation.
Caribou Program Update: Data from Scat
Blog
Scat is a precious resource in ecology, rich in data that can tell us a lot about the size and health of herds.
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.
Blog
From the fRI Caribou Program's field crew in Two Lakes, here's a field update for July 2015. Click on one of the photos to open the Slide Show. Dear readers:
Blog
Here's a field update from the fRI Caribou Program's Hinton crew:
Blog
Update from field crews with the fRI Caribou Program
Summer field work begins for fRI Caribou Program
Blog
Update on field work starting for the fRI Caribou Program
Meghan Anderson
Meghan Anderson
Research Assistant
Doug MacNearney
Doug MacNearney
Species At Risk Habitat Biologist
Kelsey Greenlay
Kelsey Greenlay
Technician
Karine Pigeon
Karine Pigeon
Wildlife Biologist
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Dr. Laura Finnegan
Program Lead
Gord Stenhouse
Gord Stenhouse
Environmental Research Program Lead