Habitat Use, Movements and Grouping Behaviour
of Woodland Caribou
Rangifer tarandus caribou,
in Southeastern Manitoba

William R. Darby1

William 0. Pruitt, Jr.

Department of Zoology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2

1Present address: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 922 Scott Street East, Fort Frances, Ontario, P9A 1J4

 

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Darby, W.R., and W.O. Pruitt, Jr. 1984. Habitat Use, Movements and Grouping Behaviour of Woodland Caribou Rangifer tarandus caribou, in Southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Field-Naturalist 98 (2): 184-190.

 

Abstract

The Aikens Lake Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) herd of 30 to 40 individuals were studied from March 1975 to April 1977. Caribou were monitored by aerial surveys and ground searches during months with snow cover and by ground searches only during snow-free months. Two Caribou were radio-collared. Caribou and Caribou tracks were seen relatively more often in mature coniferous upland habitat than in other available habitats, except during October, December and January when semi-open and open bogs were used more. The increased use of bogs coincided with a seasonal change in diet and onset of the rut. Favoured use of bogs continued until mid-February when snow cover thickness and hardness restricted foraging. Caribou then switched back to sites with more favourable snow-cover conditions in mature coniferous uplands, especially rocky ridges with Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana). Caribou did not migrate. Seasonal herd ranges consisted largely of overlapping individual ranges and varied from 100 to 180 km2 in early spring, 175 to 190 km2 in late spring and summer, 115 km2 in autumn and 95 to 140 km2 in winter. Mean group size was 5.8 in early spring, 1.2 in late spring and summer, 6.2 in autumn and 5.5 in winter.

Key Words: Caribou, habitat use, movements, behaviour.

 


 

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