Toward the Restoration of Caribou Habitat: Understanding Factors Associated with Human Motorized Use of Legacy Seismic Lines
- 452 Downloads
Populations of boreal and southern mountain caribou in Alberta, Canada, are declining, and the ultimate cause of their decline is believed to be anthropogenic disturbance. Linear features are pervasive across the landscape, and of particular importance, seismic lines established in the 1900s (legacy seismic lines) are slow to regenerate. Off-highway vehicles are widely used on these seismic lines and can hamper vegetative re-growth because of ongoing physical damage, compaction, and active clearing. Restoration of seismic lines within caribou range is therefore a priority for the recovery of threatened populations in Alberta, but a triage-type approach is necessary to prioritize restoration and ensure conservation resources are wisely spent. To target restoration efforts, our objective was to determine factors that best explained levels of off-highway vehicles use on seismic lines intersecting roads. We investigated the relative importance of local topography, vegetation attributes of seismic lines, and broad-scale human factors such as the density of infrastructures and the proximity to recreation campsites and towns to explain the observed levels of off-highway vehicles use. We found that off-highway vehicles use was mainly associated with local topography and vegetation attributes of seismic lines that facilitated ease-of-travel. Broad-scale landscape attributes associated with industrial, recreation access, or hunting activities did not explain levels of off-highway vehicles use. Management actions aimed at promoting natural regeneration and reduce ease-of-travel on legacy seismic lines within caribou ranges can be beneficial to caribou recovery in Alberta, Canada, and we therefore recommend restrictions of off-highway vehicles use on low vegetation, dry seismic lines in caribou ranges.
KeywordsOff-highway vehicles High-impact conventional seismic lines Linear features Rangifer tarandus Habitat restoration
This project was funded by Environment Canada under the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP 6617; 6699), Alberta Environment and Parks, and the Foothills Landscape Management Forum (FLMF). Additional support was provided by Weyerhaueser Co. Ltd, West Fraser Mills Ltd, Alberta Parks, the Hinton Training Centre and the numerous project partners of the fRI Caribou and Grizzly Bear Programs. We thank Julie Duval, Kevin Myles, and Joshua Crough for GIS and database assistance, Terry Larsen for help with study design and in the field, and Flurina Deagle, Lindsey Dewart, Kelsey Greenley, Amanda MacDonald, and Tyler VanderMolen for collecting field data.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Breslow NE, Clayton DG (1993) Approximate inference in generalized linear mixed models. J Am Stat Assoc 88:9–25Google Scholar
- Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Christensen, RHB (2013) Ordinal-regression models for ordinal data R package version 2013. 9–30 http://www.cran.r-project.org/package=ordinal/.
- COSEWIC (2011) Designatable units for Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
- COSEWIC (2014) COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Caribou Rangifer tarandus, Northern Mountain population, Central Mountain population and Southern Mountain population in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, Canada. www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default_e.cfm.
- Environment Canada (2011) Scientific assessment to inform the identification of critical habitat for woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), boreal population, in Canada: 2011 update. Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
- Environment Canada (2012) Recovery strategy for the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), boreal population, in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
- Environment Canada (2014) Recovery strategy for the woodland caribou, southern mountain population (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
- Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) (2014) ArcGIS desktop: release 10.2.1. Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, CAGoogle Scholar
- Finnegan L, Pigeon K, Cranston J, and Stenhouse GB (2013) Analysis and restoration of seismic cutlines in southern mountain and boreal caribou range in West-Central Alberta. Hinton, Canada.Google Scholar
- Flood JP (2005) Just don’t tell me no: managing OHV recreational use on national forests. In: Peden, JG, R Schuster, and RM (eds). Proceedings of the 2005 northeastern recreation research symposium 2005, Bolton Landing, NY. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-341. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, NY, USA.Google Scholar
- Kinley TA, Apps CD (2001) Mortality patterns in a subpopulation of endangered mountain caribou. Wildl Soc Bull 29:158–164Google Scholar
- Kuehn DM, D’Luhosch PD, Luzadis VA, Malmsheimer RW, Schuster RM (2011) Attitudes and intentions of off-highway vehicle riders toward trail use: implications for forest managers. J For 109:281–287Google Scholar
- McCullagh P (1980) Regression models for ordinal data. J R Stat Soc Series B Stat Methodol 42:109–142Google Scholar
- McFadden (1974) Conditional logit analysis of qualitative choice behaviour. In: Zarembka P (ed) Frontiers in econometrics. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
- Nellemann C, Cameron R (1996) Effects of petroleum development on terrain preferences of calving caribou. Arctic 49:23–28Google Scholar
- Oberg PR (2001) Responses of mountain caribou to linear features in a west-central Alberta landscape. MSc Thesis. Wildlife Ecology and Management. University of Alberta.Google Scholar
- Pierskalla CD, Schuett MA, Thompson KA (2011) Management perceptions of off-highway vehicle use on national forest system lands in Appalachia. Northern J Appl Forestry 28:208–213Google Scholar
- R Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/.
- Smith TJ, McKenna CM (2012) An examination of ordinal regression goodness-of-fit indices under varied sample conditions and link functions. Mult Linear Regression Viewpoints 38:1–7Google Scholar
- Sonderegger D (2012) SiZer: SiZer: significant zero crossings. R package version 0.1-4. http://CRAN.R-project.org/pacakge=SiZer.