Boreal and mountain caribou

Project lead: Eric Palm, PhD student

Palm-Study-Area.jpgEric’s PhD research characterizes the relationship between disturbance and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) population dynamics across large-scale geographic gradients. The goal is to link environmental resources to demographic performance across forest-dwelling caribou from Alberta to Alaska to understand how fire and human disturbance drives caribou population persistence. Eric is developing woodland caribou resource selection across ~25 populations using remotely sensed environmental predictor layers to characterize local and large-scale patterns in caribou resource selection for fire and human disturbance.  

Eric is also collaborating with other ABoVE researchers in the novel development of drone-based (UAV) lichen habitat mapping to understand fine-scale lichen-fire relationships to understand disturbance. For a subset of these populations, Eric will integrate known-fate survival data from radiocollared adult female caribou, recruitment data, and population counts in an integrated population model to assess population viability. Finally, Eric will conduct spatially-explicit population viability analyses for caribou populations under a suite of published potential fire and human land use scenarios to assess the relative importance of human land use and fire to their persistence.

Watch a video of Eric describing his research as part of a presentation to WCS-Canada, which named him a Weston Fellow in 2017.