TITLE

Body-condition dynamics in a northern ungulate gaining fat in winter

AUTHOR(S)
Couturier, Serge; Côté, Steeve D.; Huot, Jean; Otto, Robert D.
PUB. DATE
May 2009
SOURCE
Canadian Journal of Zoology;May2009, Vol. 87 Issue 5, p367
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Individual condition generally depends on density and is partly determined by habitat quality and climate. We studied long-term trends in the condition and productivity of female caribou (Rangifer tarandus (L., 1758)) in two large migratory herds in the Quebec-Labrador peninsula (Canada), the George and the Feuilles herds. Females from the George herd were in better summer condition than those from the more abundant Feuilles herd in 2001-2002, while it was the opposite in 1988 when the Feuilles herd was less abundant than the George herd. Summer nutrition followed the same pattern between herds through time. Spring body condition of females in the George herd declined from 1976 to the mid-1980s during early population growth. Fall condition, however, did not change from 1983 to 2002 when caribou numbers first peaked and later declined. Pregnancy rates were inversely related to herd size in both herds. Vegetation quality (NDVI) in June was significantly related to body proteins in the fall. Albeit unusual for a northern ungulate, body fat increased from fall to spring in the George herd. We conclude that a relatively small and highly grazed summer range, as well as density-dependent effects, affected summer nutrition and the need to continue lipogenesis during winter.
ACCESSION #
40312814

 

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