Sophiane Béland
Master student
Department of Biology
Laval University

Supervised by:

Steeve Côté (Regular member)

Research project description

Fine-scale habitat selection of female caribou in summer, using camera collars

Migratory caribou (Rangifer tarandus) is a socioeconomically and culturally important species for Quebec, and its populations are experiencing a sharp decline. Although these caribou herds have been studied for several years, our knowledge of the amount of habitat that must be protected to ensure the persistence of these populations is limited. In this context, the study of habitat selection is a useful tool because it makes it possible to determine the distribution of individuals or populations in a heterogeneous environment and to characterize the habitats and resources they use. For migratory caribou, it is known that females are directly dependent on the availability of summer habitat resources given the very high costs associated with lactation, but also the need to accumulate reserves for other seasons, when resources are less abundant. However, we do not know how these females select the resources and the different habitats at a fine spatial scale. This is what will be determined in this project with the objective of evaluating the summer habitat selection (June to September) of female caribou in the Rivière-aux-Feuilles herd (Nunavik) at a fine spatial scale. Specifically, we will focus on habitat selection at the feeding sites. We will also evaluate the effects of environmental variables such as temperature and wind, as well as the effects of insect harassment, on female habitat selection. To do this, we will use camera collars that capture the images in front of the animal equipped with such a collar. This project will provide us with information on the selection of summer habitat by female caribou at a fine spatial scale, which will contribute to the management and conservation of the migratory caribou and its habitats.

Research Site Coordinates

Scientific Communications

Béland, S., Vuillaume, B., Leclerc, M., Bernier, M., Côté, S.D., 2023. Selection of summer feeding sites and food resources by female migratory caribou (<i>Rangifer tarandus</i>) determined using camera collars. <strong>PLoS one</strong>, 18(11): 17. DOI: <a href="" target="_blank">10.1371/journal.pone.0294846</a>.

Béland, S., 2019. Des caribous caméramans. Pinte Sentinelle Nord: Curiosités de l'Arctique. Québec, Québec, Canada.

Béland, S., Bernier, M., Côté, S.D., 2019. Sélection des sites d'alimentation estivaux des femelles caribous migrateurs à l'aide de colliers-caméras. 8e Colloque de Caribou Ungava. Québec, Québec, Canada.

Béland, S., Bernier, M., Côté, S.D., 2018. Sélection d'habitat estival du caribou migrateur à fine échelle à l’aide de colliers caméras. 7e Colloque de Caribou Ungava. Québec, Québec, Canada.

Béland, S., Bernier, M., Côté, S.D., 2018. Sélection d’habitat estivale à fine échelle spatiale des caribous femelles à l’aide de colliers caméras. 7e édition de la Journée de la recherche de la Faculté des sciences et de génie, Université Laval. Québec, Québec, Canada.

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