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Evaluating the impacts of wildland fires on caribou in interior Alaska

January 1, 2002

Caribou are found throughout the boreal forests of interior Alaska, a region subject to chronic and expansive wildland fires. Fruticose lichens, if available, constitute the majority of the winter diet of caribou throughout their range and are common in mature boreal forests but largely absent from early successional stages. Fire, the dominant ecological driving force, increases vegetative diversity and productivity across the landscape but may reduce the availability of caribou winter forage for decades.

Increasingly, wildland fire regimes are influenced by humans seeking to reduce fire hazards or mitigate the effects of years of fire suppression. Consequently, biologists have debated the importance of forage lichens to the dynamics of caribou populations, and land managers have questioned the importance of fire regime to wintering caribou. To better understand the impacts of wildland fire on caribou, we are simultaneously investigating the relationships between fire history, caribou movements, forage lichen availability, and caribou nutritional performance on their winter range.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Evaluating the impacts of wildland fires on caribou in interior Alaska
Authors Kyle Joly, Layne G. Adams, Bruce W. Dale, William Collins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Arctic Research of the United States
Index ID 70180866
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center; Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB

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