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1 September 2004 Caribou distribution near an oilfield road on Alaska's North Slope, 1978–2001
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Abstract

Previous research in the Milne Point oilfield in northern Alaska showed that the density of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in the calving period within 1 km of a road was significantly lower after construction than before construction of the road. This was interpreted as displacement from the road and a functional loss of habitat and has been extensively cited as a documented effect of oilfield development on caribou. We continued this study with additional aerial surveys flown during 1991–2001 and compared caribou numbers and density in 6 1-km intervals from the road over 3 time periods: pre-road construction (1978–1981), early post-road construction (1982–1987), and recent post-road construction (1991–2001). During the recent post-road period, the densities of calves and of all caribou were not significantly lower within 1 km of the road than the densities in the pre-road period. In addition, calf density was higher in the interval within 1 km of the road than in the intervals 1–6 km from the road during the recent post-road construction period. The total number of calving caribou observed in the study area has declined since pre-road construction and early post-road periods, but we found no evidence that caribou using the area during calving avoided areas near the road during the recent post-road period. Numbers of caribou in the study area during the post-calving period (after 20 June) during 1991–2001 were highly variable, but generally were higher than during calving. Analyses of relationships between calving and post-calving caribou densities and distance intervals from Milne Point Road suggested that distributions of calves and adult caribou were not strongly influenced by presence of the road.

Lynn E. Noel, Keith R. Parker, and Matthew A. Cronin "Caribou distribution near an oilfield road on Alaska's North Slope, 1978–2001," Wildlife Society Bulletin 32(3), 757-771, (1 September 2004). https://doi.org/10.2193/0091-7648(2004)032[0757:CDNAOR]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 September 2004
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