Potential impacts of climate change on boreal caribou habitat

This project assessed the future of the habitat of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal population (“boreal caribou”), across a section of northeast Alberta using a habitat quality model and future climate projections from three general circulation models.

Mapped climatic and topo-edaphic properties were used to estimate future upland vegetation cover, along with a fire simulation model to project the frequency and extent of wildfires. Based on projections, future boreal caribou habitat was quantified according to estimates of nutritional resources and predation risk derived from vegetation cover type and stand age.

This study brought researchers from several disciplines (wildlife biology, vegetation modelling, wildland fire ecology, climatology) together to help "bracket" the future uncertainty in boreal caribou habitat suitability.