Linda Nowack
Ph.D. student
Department of Biology
Laval University

Supervised by:

Steeve Côté (Regular member)

Christian Dussault (External collaborator)

Research project description

Seasonal variation in space use and habitat selection of black bears in relation with migratory caribou

Black bears are considered as important predators on ungulates. Predation mainly occur on neonate ungulates during the first weeks after birth when they are most vulnerable. In northern Quebec and Labrador two migratory herds of caribou (Rivière-George, Labrador and Rivière-aux-Feuilles, Nunavik) are declining. Female caribou aggregate during June for calving. During that time, they are exposed to predation by black bears. Hence, black bears are omnivorous and have access to a wide range of food sources and a loose predation-prey relationship makes it difficult to determine the effects of predation on caribou population dynamics. Furthermore, black bears can show different foraging tactics and it remains uncertain whether bears actively search for caribou or use them as an incidental food source. The study will investigate habitat use and habitat selection of black bears within caribou ranges to test whether: bears actively seek for calving sites of caribou differences exist between bears (sex; reproduction status) using caribou or not black bears are opportunistic feeders or active predators on neonates interaction with wolves change foraging behavior by black bears GPS relocation data of caribou, bear and wolf (caribou: two herds, 600 females since 1991; bears: 41 individuals since 2012; wolves: 51 individuals since 2011) will be used to assess seasonal variation in home-ranges, selection of habitat and overlap between the different species. Additionally, it is planned to equip bears with video collars to gather information about foraging behavior, encounters and potential kill rates of caribou.

Research Site Coordinates

Scientific Communications

Nowack, L., Taillon, J., Dussault, C., Côté, S.D., 2019. Utilisation de l'espace et sélection d'habitat par l’ours noir et le loup gris en interaction avec le caribou migrateur au Nord du Québec et au Labrador. 8e Colloque de Caribou Ungava. Québec, Québec, Canada.

Nowack, L., Dussault, C., Pisapio, J., Taillon, J., Brodeur, V., Côté, S.D., 2018. Interactions spatiales entre le caribou migrateur et ses prédateurs. 7e Colloque de Caribou Ungava. Québec, Québec, Canada.

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