Fact Sheets

Finding Enough Good Food to Eat Can be Challenging for Caribou in Northeastern British Columbia

Nutrition underpins virtually every life process in animals and is fundamentally important to populations through its effects on survival and reproduction. The nutritional value of the environment is determined by the ability of caribou to satisfy their nutritional requirements and is influenced by which species caribou choose to eat and the availability and quality of those species.

Dr. Kristin Denryter collects fine-scale foraging data from a tame female caribou in a willow-dominated alpine community of north-eastern British Columbia. Photo credit: Rachel Cook

Many methods exist to estimate forage quantity and quality of plant communities for ungulates, but most lack information on relationships between forage characteristics and levels of nutrition obtained by foraging animals. NCASI’s research uses bottle-raised tame caribou that allow for accurate measurements of bite mass, bite rate, foraging time, and species and parts of plants consumed, all of which are used to directly measure the nutritional value of plant communities to caribou.

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