Spatial and Dietary Overlap of Caribou and White-tailed Deer in Alberta

Forestry and oil and gas development are increasing food availability for white-tailed deer in the western Canadian boreal forest. At the same time, climate change is reducing their winter mortality. The result is a steadily growing population of white-tailed deer in Alberta and British Columbia, including within threatened caribou ranges. Despite their increasing importance within the boreal ecosystem, they are largely unstudied in western Alberta until now.

Suzanne Stevenson’s Master’s thesis investigated the spatial overlap between white-tailed deer and the A la Peche, Redrock-Prai-rie Creek, and Narraway caribou herds. In a first for deer in Alberta, she also employed DNA metabarcoding to compare the diets of white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and mountain caribou in the same ranges.