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The Return of Caribou to Ungava

Series: McGill-Queen's Native and Northern Series Volume: 50

By: AT Bergerud(Author), Stuart N Luttich(Author), Lodewijk Camps(Author)

656 pages, 106 colour illustrations, 44 colour maps, 95 tables

McGill-Queens University Press

Paperback | Sep 2012 | #199208 | ISBN-13: 9780773540774
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $32/€27 approx
Hardback | Sep 2007 | #199209 | ISBN-13: 9780773532335
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $47/€40 approx

About this book

The George River caribou herd increased from 15,000 animals in 1958 to 700,000 in 1988 – the largest herd in the world at the time. The authors trace the fluctuations in this caribou population back to the 1700s, detail how the herd escaped extinction in the 1950s, and consider current environmental threats to its survival.

In an examination of the life history and population biology of the herd, The Return of Caribou to Ungava offers a synthesis of the basic biological traits of the caribou, a new hypothesis about why they migrate, and a comparison to herd populations in North America, Scandinavia, and Russia. The authors conclude that the old maxim, "Nobody knows the way of the caribou," is no longer valid. Based on a study in which the caribou were tracked by satellite across Ungava, they find that caribou are able to navigate, even in unfamiliar habitats, and to return to their calving ground, movement that is central to the caribou's cyclical migration. The Return of Caribou to Ungava also examines whether the herd can adapt to global warming and other changing environmental realities.

"Excellent, comprehensive and well written. Very interesting reading for a Rangifer biologist and generally for any biology interested person."
- Eigil Reimers, University of Oslo

"Bergerud et al have gifted us with an intimate gaze on a natural wonder of the world ... If you wish to learn about the caribou, read this book. The book is mammoth, an opus magnum, chock full of data and insight into the lives of the iconic wanderer of the north. It is a rare type of work."
- John McCarthy, The Canadian Field-Naturalist

"The Return of Caribou to Ungava should be read by everyone with even a passing interest in northern ecology, caribou management, or predator-prey relationships. It should be read by historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists."
- Charles E. Kay, Utah State University

"The authors have produced an excellent, comprehensive and well-written book on caribou and reindeer population ecology, with special emphasis on the Ungava caribou. The thoughtful and knowledgeable discussions within almost all important Rangifer topics make this book a valuable reference source not only for caribou and reindeer biologists but also for ungulate biologists and ecologists in general. A very important contribution lies in the authors' creative thinking, combined with long field work experience with the caribou and their environments."
- Rangifer

"All those with an interest in Canada's North would want this book on their shelves as it has so much insight into caribou, people, and the landscape that they have shared from time immemorial to the present. For wildlife biologists – not just caribou specialists, but any biologists with an interest in large mammal ecology – the book is a gift for its quantity of information and ecological insights."
- Anne Gunn, ARCTIC


Donors ix
Acknowledgments xv
List of Tables xix
List of Figures xxv
Preface xxxv
Plates xxxix

1 Setting and Background 3
The Eruption of the George River Caribou Herd 3
Ungava 4
Boundaries of Vegetative Zones 12
Plant Species Composition of Vegetative Zones 15
Forest Fires 17
Mammalian Fauna 21
Those Other Animals 27
Native Inhabitants 28

2 Taxonomy, Ecotypes, Herds, and Morphology 31
Ecotypes 34
Migratory Herds 40
Morphology 41

3 The Return of Caribou to Ungava after the Last Ice Age 54
Postglacial Dispersal and Ecotypes 54
Recolonization 64

4 The Abundance and Distribution of Sedentary Caribou 74
Distribution 76
Population Dynamics Background 81
Population Dynamics of the Major Herds 85
Population Regulation and Management 102

5 Past Population Fluctuations 106
Postglacial Distribution of Ungava Caribou 106
Historical Distribution 109
Past Fluctuation of Numbers 113

At Home in the Wilderness: The Mushuau Innu and Caribou 123
by Stephen Loring, Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution

6 Causal Factors in Historical Fluctuations 135
Early Explanations 137
A Recent Hypothesis: Increased Snow Cover 143
Shortage of Green Forage and Cold Springs 146

7 Forage and Range 150
Range Survey, 1988–89 151
Food Preferences1155
The Condition of Winter Pastures 160
The Condition of Summer Pastures 166
Activity and Energy Budgets 174
Range Trends 177
A Look Ahead 179

8 Body and Antler Growth 181
The Measurement of Growth and Body Size 182
Body Size 183
Fetal Growth 187
Birth Mass of Calves 190
Growth of Calves and Yearlings 196
Retarded Growth and Compensation 197
Adult Body Mass 207
Antler Size 214
Growth and Demography 218

9 Physical Condition 222
Antler and Calving Indexes 223
Antler Condition Index 226
Female Antler Casting 229
Chewing of Antlers 232
Calving Chronology 234
Nutrition and Antler Casting 239
Liver Weights 241
Fat Cycle 242
Energy Expenditure during Migration 251
Migration/Habitat Strategies and Fat Deposition 256
Fat Deposition Strategies 257
Trends in Condition Indices 262

10 Recruitment, Mortality, and Population Growth 267
Basic Indices 268
Pregnancy/Parous Rates 273
Calf Mortality Statistics 275
Adult Mortality 282
Population Growth 286
The Decline Phase, 1988–93 287

11 Limiting Factors 292
Starvation 292
Accidents 295
Hunting Mortality 297
Weather Factors 298
Disease and Parasite 300
Predation 305
Differential Mortality of Males and Females 310

12 The Use of Space 318
Aerial Surveys and Radio Monitoring 319
The Centre of Habitation 321
Range Expansion 324
Range Contraction 331
Range Predictability 337
Calving, Rutting, and Winter Distributions 341
Movement Routes 341
Releasing/Expansion Densities 348
The “Social Stimulus” Concept 348
Density-Dependent Changes in the Use of Space 349

13 Environmental Factors in Distribution and Movement 353
Basic Quantification Methods 353
Seasonal Changes in Mobility 358
Annual Dispersion and Fidelity in Distributions 375
Environmental Influences on Seasonal Distributions 381

14 Optimal Foraging and Predation Risk in the Winter and
Growing Season 404
Distribution Strategy in Winter 404
Spacing Strategy in the Growing Season 413
Competitive Interference at High Densities 424
Global Warming and Optimal Foraging/Predation Risk 427

15 Spacing Theory of Calving and Migration 432
Migration Hypotheses 432
Nutrition Destination Hypothesis 434
Predation Displacement Hypothesis 437
The Location and Shifting of Calving Grounds 443
Females Shifted to Reduce Predation Risk 447
Snow Cover on Calving Grounds 450
Calving Grounds at Maximum Distance from Tree Line 451
Density Dependence of Calving Ground Location 452
Timing of Births 456
Synchrony of Births 460
Homing and Navigation 462
Experimental Evidence of True Navigation 467
Birth Site Fidelity 469
Homing of Yearlings 476

16 Population Regulation 479
Parturition Rates 480
Summer Calf Mortality 484
Winter Mortality of Calves 488
Adult Mortality 491
The Foraging Carrying Capacity 494
Winter Starvation 494
Range Fecundity and Calf Survival 496
Population Model 498
A Shortage of Summer Foods 501
Final Comments 508

Appendix Summer Energy Budgets for Lactating Females 513
Bibliography 539
Index 577

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A.T. Bergerud is former chief biologist of Newfoundland. He has been a population ecologist involved in research on caribou populations in North America since 1955. Stuart N. Luttich, a provincial biologist in Labrador, monitored the caribou herd from 1974 to 1993. Lodewijk Camps studied the George River caribou herd from 1988 to 1992.


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