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The Effect of Extreme Snowcover on Feeding-Site Selection by Woodland Caribou

W. Kent Brown and John B. Theberge
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 54, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 161-168
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3808916
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3808916
Page Count: 8
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The Effect of Extreme Snowcover on Feeding-Site Selection by Woodland Caribou
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Abstract

The depth and hardness of snowcover are important factors affecting caribou (Rangifer tarandus) feeding strategies. We investigated the influence of extreme snow conditions on the distribution and use of feeding sites by caribou in the Red Wine Mountains Region, Labrador, during winter (Dec-Apr), 1982-83 and 1983-84. The tolerance of caribou to snowcover depth and hardness exceeded all previously reported thresholds. Caribou wintered in areas with mean snow depths of 176.7 cm and, to reach forage, they dug through snow with mean depths of ≤123.1 cm. Snowcover depths and hardnesses were similar between feeding areas and adjacent areas of similar habitat. Evidence indicated that caribou are capable of visually distinguishing among snow covered terrain features to locate forage on the ground.

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