ProjectMonitoring movement, seasonal range and sexual segregation in barren ground caribou herds of the Northwest Territories
In Northern Canada, the barren-ground caribou are of great cultural significance to First Nations and Inuit as a traditional source of food, fur and other raw materials. Over the past decade, the two largest caribou herds in the Northwest Territories (Bluenose East & Bathurst) have experienced important declines in numbers, prompting urgent calls to implement appropriate management policies and mitigate factors causing this decline. During the course of my thesis, I will use GPS collar data from cows and bulls from both herds to study sexual differences in movement patterns, seasonal use of range and sexual segregation in caribou by developing step selection functions and landscape connectivity models. To consider the variation of harvesting opportunities experienced at the local, I will complement these landscape scale models using Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the potential sexual differences in movement patterns in times of abundance and in times of herd decline. In parallel, I will explore the automation of camera traps using pattern recognition software as a tool for monitoring caribou behaviour adjacent to development infrastructure. My overall objective is to develop new statistical and software infrastructure that can be used by all stakeholders (First Nations, government and industry) to facilitate applied caribou management in the NWT.