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Landscape Ecology

, 24:1375 | Cite as

Landscape management for woodland caribou: the protection of forest blocks influences wolf-caribou co-occurrence

  • Nicolas Courbin
  • Daniel FortinEmail author
  • Christian Dussault
  • Réhaume Courtois
Research Article

Abstract

Various management plans have been developed to mitigate the effects of human activities on threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) populations. Most plans do not account for the behavior of wolves (Canis lupus), their main predator. The success of caribou recovery plans may nonetheless depend on how landscape management shapes wolf-caribou interactions. We evaluated the species-specific responses of caribou and wolves to a management plan in Québec, and assessed its impact on the probability of wolf-caribou co-occurrence. Landscape management consisted of the protection of large forest blocks, and the spatial aggregation of cutblocks. Based on telemetry data, we modeled animal-habitat spatial relationships with resource selection functions, and then estimate the relative probability of wolf-caribou co-occurrence. We found that caribou selected mature conifer forests with lichen. Wolves selected mixed and deciduous stands. Caribou avoided roads and cutblocks, while wolves selected them, which resulted in a relatively low probability of co-occurrence in harvested areas. Concurrent habitat selection by the two species was such that the highest probability of wolf-caribou co-occurrence took place in protected forest blocks (PB) from December to May. For efficient mitigation measures, the location of PBs should be selected while accounting for differences in habitat selection between wolf and caribou. The blocks should include mature conifer forests with lichen, minimize the abundance of mixed and deciduous stands, and be far from roads and cutblocks. Consideration of predator behavior can improve suitability of landscape management plans for the long-term persistence of threatened prey populations under top-down control.

Keywords

Canadian boreal forest Canis lupus Forest harvesting Forest management plan Generalized linear mixed model Rangifer tarandus caribou Wolf-caribou co-occurrence Wolf-caribou resource selection functions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Financial supports for field efforts and data analysis were funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)—Sylviculture and Wildlife Research Chair, Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Fondation de la faune du Québec. We address special thanks to M. Houle for her preliminary analyses on wolves, and to E. Azeria for his comments on the paper. We thank L. Breton, B. Rochette, B. Baillargeon and D. Gay for their help in the field.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Courbin
    • 1
  • Daniel Fortin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Dussault
    • 2
  • Réhaume Courtois
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology Department, Sylviculture and Wildlife Research Chair CRSNG-Laval UniversityLaval UniversityQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Birds and Terrestrial Wildlife ServiceQuebecCanada
  3. 3.Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Biodiversity and Wildlife Diseases ServiceQuebecCanada

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