Remotely-sensed changes in the primary productivity of migratory caribou calving grounds and summer pasture : the mixed influences of climate change and caribou herbivory

Authors: Campeau, Allen
Advisor: Côté, Steeve D.
Abstract: This thesis used remote sensing to examine how changes in caribou abundance can impact forage availability, and how these changes might in turn affect the population dynamics and space use patterns of migratory caribou. We investigated these relationships for the Rivière-George caribou herd (RGH) and its calving grounds and summer range in Northern Quebec and Labrador (Canada) from 1991-2011. We modelled the relationships between primary productivity and various climatic variables, allowing us to isolate the effects of non-climatic factors, such as caribou herbivory, on primary productivity. We found a negative relationship between caribou density and primary productivity at the range-scale, suggesting that caribou herbivory can reduce forage abundance and contribute to habitat degradation. However, a strong warming trend over the study period, coupled with a decline in RGH population size, meant that we observed a trend towards higher primary productivity. This greening trend may represent vegetation recovery following the reduction in caribou herbivory and/or an effect of climate warming.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2016
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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