Data from: Disentangling woodland caribou movements in response to clearcuts and roads across temporal scales
Beauchesne, David; Jaeger, Jochen A. G.; St-Laurent, Martin-Hugues; Jaeger, Jochen AG. (2013), Data from: Disentangling woodland caribou movements in response to clearcuts and roads across temporal scales, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n3c2f
Although prey species typically respond to the most limiting factors at coarse spatiotemporal scales while addressing biological requirements at finer scales, such behaviour may become challenging for species inhabiting human altered landscapes. We investigated how woodland caribou, a threatened species inhabiting North-American boreal forests, modified their fine-scale movements when confronted with forest management features (i.e. clearcuts and roads). We used GPS telemetry data collected between 2004 and 2010 on 49 female caribou in a managed area in Québec, Canada. Movements were studied using a use – availability design contrasting observed steps (i.e. line connecting two consecutive locations) with random steps (i.e. proxy of immediate habitat availability). Although caribou mostly avoided disturbances, individuals nonetheless modulated their fine-scale response to disturbances on a daily and annual basis, potentially compromising between risk avoidance in periods of higher vulnerability (i.e. calving, early and late winter) during the day and foraging activities in periods of higher energy requirements (i.e. spring, summer and rut) during dusk/dawn and at night. The local context in which females moved was shown to influence their decision to cross clearcut edges and roads. Indeed, although females typically avoided crossing clearcut edges and roads at low densities, crossing rates were found to rapidly increase in greater disturbance densities. In some instance, however, females were less likely to cross edges and roads as densities increased. Females may then be trapped and forced to use disturbed habitats, known to be associated with higher predation risk. We believe that further increases in anthropogenic disturbances could exacerbate such behavioural responses and ultimately lead to population level consequences.