Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer models expose humans as main cause of caribou decline

02.09.2004


If not for humans, the number of woodland caribou in northern Alberta would be seven times greater than it is now, a new study from the University of Alberta shows. Since 1987, woodland caribou in Alberta have been classified as threatened under the Alberta Wildlife Act.



"Caribou feed mostly on lichens that are typical for old-growth forest stands," said Piotr Weclaw a PhD student at the U of A. "They need a pristine ecological environment with large areas of old-growth forests in order to survive, and most things that disrupt the natural environment will be detrimental to them." "In this manner, studying caribou is especially important because caribou are what we call an ’indicator’ species, meaning how well they do is generally a good indicator to gauge the overall health of the forests where they live," he added.

Working in the U of A Department of Renewable Resources, Weclaw and his PhD supervisor, Dr. Robert Hudson, developed computer models that simulate the ecosystem of a 20,000 square km area in northern Alberta. They introduced different variables into the models to see what effect, if any, the changes had on the development of the simulated ecosystem. Some variables included altering the number of wolves (a caribou predator), moose (the main prey of wolves), and edible vegetation in the area. As well, a "natural" model--the ecosystem as it would be without any humans and thus no industrial development--was created, as was a "business as usual" model, with no changes from current conditions.


The models show that human activities stood out overwhelmingly as the variable most responsible for the woodland caribou’s decline in northern Alberta. The models also showed that woodland caribou could coexist with uncontrolled wolf populations in northern Alberta, but if human developments continue at the current rate, the number of woodland caribou in the area will drop sharply in about 15 years, and continue dropping until they are eliminated from the area in 37 years.

"Based on the simulation experiments, we suggest the most detrimental factor on caribou population dynamics is the functional loss of habitat due to avoidance of good quality habitat in proximity of industrial infrastructures," said Weclaw, lead author of the study, which will be published this month in Ecological Modelling.

A previous study conducted through the Boreal Caribou Committee, a group of U of A researchers dedicated to studying caribou, showed caribou will generally stay about 200 metres clear of any human industrial developments, including roads and seismic lines.

Weclaw added that some measures are being taken to reduce the impact humans are having on Alberta’s northern boreal land. For one, he said, seismic lines, which oil and gas exploration companies make to produce a model of subsurface geological structures, are being made narrower than they used to be and are no longer cut in straight lines. The lines are also reseeded shortly after being cut. Research is being conducted to see if these measures lessen the impact on the caribou.

However, whether these measures prove effective or not, Weclaw believes that even more needs to be done to ensure the continued survival of the caribou in northern Alberta. "We need to get all interested parties together to work on solutions to protect the caribou. Our research suggests that if things continue as they are now, soon we won’t have anymore caribou to protect," he said.

Ryan Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht What the size distribution of organisms tells us about the energetic efficiency of a lake
05.06.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>