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The porcupine caribou herd

January 1, 2002

Documentation of the natural range of variation in ecological, life history, and physiological characteristics of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) of the Porcupine caribou herd is a necessary base for detecting or predicting any potential effects of industrial development on the performance (e.g., distribution, demography, weight-gain of individuals) of the herd. To demonstrate an effect of development, post-development performance must differ from pre-development performance while accounting for any natural environmental trends.

We had 2 working hypotheses for our investigations: 1) performance of the Porcupine caribou herd was associated with environmental patterns and habitat quality, and 2) access to important habitats was a key influence on demography.

We sought to document the range of natural variation in habitat conditions, herd size, demography (defined here as survival and reproduction), sources and magnitude of mortality, distribution, habitat use, and weight gain and loss, and to develop an understanding of the interactions among these characteristics of the herd.

In addition, we investigated ways that we could use this background information, combined with auxiliary information from the adjacent Central Arctic caribou herd, to predict the direction and magnitude of any potential effects of industrial oil development in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Porcupine caribou herd calf survival on the herd's calving grounds during June.

Publication Year 2002
Title The porcupine caribou herd
Authors Brad Griffith, David C. Douglas, Noreen E. Walsh, Donald D. Young, Thomas R. McCabe, Donald E. Russell, Robert G. White, Raymond D. Cameron, Kenneth R. Whitten
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Biological Science Report
Series Number 2002-0001
Index ID 70188494
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center