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Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain Terrestrial Wildlife Research Summaries

Edited by:

D. C. Douglas, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, Alaska
P. E. Reynolds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, Alaska
E. B. Rhode, Expression, Anchorage, Alaska

Biological Science Report
USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001

Contents


U.S. Department of the Interior
Gale A. Norton, Secretary
U.S. Geological Survey
Charles G. Groat, Director

U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia: 2002

Any use of trade, product, or firm names in this publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Copies of this publication are available from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161 (1-800-553-6847 or 703-487-4650). Copies also are available to registered users from the Defense Technical Information Center, Attn.: Help Desk, 8725 Kingman Road, Suite 0944, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-6218 (1-800-225-3842 or 703-767-9050). Digital copies of this publication can be obtained on the Internet at http://alaska.usgs.gov.

Citation example:

Griffith, B., D. C. Douglas, N. E. Walsh, D. D. Young, T. R. McCabe, D. E. Russell, R. G. White, R. D. Cameron, and K. R. Whitten. 2002. The Porcupine caribou herd. Pages 8-37 in D. C. Douglas, P. E. Reynolds, and E. B. Rhode, editors. Arctic Refuge coastal plain terrestrial wildlife research summaries. U. S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001.


Preface

In 1980, when the U.S. Congress enacted the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), it also mandated a study of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Section 1002 of ANILCA stated that a comprehensive inventory of fish and wildlife resources would be conducted on 1.5 million acres of the Arctic Refuge coastal plain (1002 Area). Potential petroleum reserves in the 1002 Area were also to be evaluated from surface geological studies and seismic exploration surveys. Results of these studies and recommendations for future management of the Arctic Refuge coastal plain were to be prepared in a report to Congress.

In 1987, the Department of Interior published the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, Coastal Plain Resource Assessment - Report and Recommendation to the Congress of the United States and Final Environmental Impact Statement. This report to Congress identified the potential for oil and gas production (updated* most recently by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2001), described the biological resources, and evaluated the potential adverse effects to fish and wildlife resources. The 1987 report analyzed the potential environmental consequences of five management alternatives for the coastal plain, ranging from wilderness designation to opening the entire area to lease for oil and gas development. The report’s summary recommended opening the 1002 Area to an orderly oil and gas leasing program, but cautioned that adverse effects to some wildlife populations were possible.

Congress did not act on this recommendation nor any other alternative for the 1002 Area, and scientists continued studies of key wildlife species and habitats on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge and surrounding areas. This report contains updated summaries of those scientific investigations of caribou, muskoxen, predators (grizzly bears, wolves, golden eagles), polar bears, snow geese, and their wildlife habitats.

Contributions to this report were made by scientists affiliated with the U.S. Geological Survey; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Alaska Department of Fish and Game; University of Alaska-Fairbanks; Canadian Wildlife Service; Yukon Department of Renewable Resources; and the Northwest Territories Department of Resources, Wildlife, and Economic Development.

Sections of the report presenting new information on caribou and forage plants were peer-reviewed by three independent, non-affiliated scientists. The remaining sections summarize previously published peer-reviewed scientific papers and were reviewed by a single independent scientist. The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated in the publication of this report.

* U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-028-01
http://geology.cr.usgs.gov/pub/fact-sheets/fs-0028-01/


Contents

Preface

List of Figures

List of Tables

Authors’ Addresses

Section 1. Introduction

Background
Study Area

References

Section 2. Land Cover

Vegetation Mapping of the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain
References

Section 3. The Porcupine Caribou Herd

Data, Methods and Assumptions
Nutritional Importance of the Calving Ground

Habitat Trends During the Study Period

Herd Dynamics and Demography

Seasonal Distribution and Movements

Foraging on the Calving Ground

Habitat Selection

Effects of Insect Harassment on Habitat Use

Calf Performance in Relation to Habitat Use

Factors Associated with Calf Survival on the Calving Ground

Potential Effects of Development on June Calf Survival

Conclusions

References

Section 4. The Central Arctic Caribou Herd

Status of the Central Arctic Herd
Development-related Changes in Distribution
Body Condition and Reproductive Performance
Overview
References

Section 5. Forage Quantity and Quality

Forage Comparisons Within and Outside the 1002 Area
References

Section 6. Predators

Predator Distributions
Factors Associated with Predator Distributions
Rates of Predation
References

Section 7. Muskoxen

Dynamics and Range Expansion of a Re-established Muskox Population
Seasonal Strategies of Muskoxen: Distribution, Habitats, and Activity Patterns
Winter Habitat Use of Muskoxen: Spatial Scales of Resource Selection
Summary
References

Section 8. Polar Bears

Movements and Population Dynamics of Polar Bears
Reproductive Significance of Maternity Denning on Land
References

Section 9. Snow Geese

Size and Distribution of Snow Geese Populations
Snow Goose Habitat, Food, and Energy Requirements
Effect of Mitigation of Human Activities on Snow Geese
References

Acknowledgements


List of Figures

1.1. Geographic map of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, USA, and surrounding areas

1.2. Geographic map of the 1002 Area of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

2.1. Land-cover map of the 1002 Area with corresponding vegetation class names, descriptions, and class codes, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

3.1. Land-cover classes on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain and eastward as generalized for caribou studies

3.2. For the Porcupine caribou herd: annual range, calving sites, and aggregate extent of calving, 1983-2001. For the Central Arctic caribou herd: calving sites and extent of calving, 1980-1995

3.3. Mean temperatures for 2 stations within the Porcupine caribou herd’s aggregate extent of calving and 1 station within its winter range for a) June and b) winter, 1950-1995

3.4. Median Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) on 21 June within the aggregate extent of calving for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1983-2001

3.5. Standardized values of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) for winter and standardized population size of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1958-2001

3.6. Median NDVI at calving within the aggregate extent of calving of the Porcupine caribou herd for the current year, and winter Arctic Oscillation index for the previous calendar year, 1985-2001

3.7. Frequency of days with daytime temperatures above freezing in a) spring and b) fall, on transitional ranges of the Porcupine caribou herd during the increase and decrease phases of the herd

3.8. Size of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1972-2001, estimated from aerial photo-censuses by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

3.9. Relative post-calving herd sizes of the 4 Alaska barren-ground caribou herds, 1976-2001

3.10. Reproductive estimates for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1983-2001; a) parturition rate of adult females, b) calf survival from birth through the last week of June, and c) net calf production

3.11. Distribution of satellite-collared Porcupine caribou herd females during 7 time periods, 1985-1995

3.12. Minimum median daily movement rate of parturient satellite-collared females of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-1995

3.13. Calving distributions of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1983-2001

3.14. Percent of radio-collared Porcupine caribou herd females that calved in the 1002 Area, 1983-2001

3.15. Percent of radio-collared Porcupine caribou herd females that calved within the 1002 Area in relation to the median NDVI at calving within the aggregate extent of calving, 1985-2001

3.16. Porcupine caribou herd a) diet composition and b) median phenology of major forage items, 1993

3.17. Porcupine caribou herd a) diet composition and b) median phenology of major forage items, 1994.

3.18. Annual conditions of snowcover and vegetation phenology derived from satellite imagery during the calving period, 1985-2001, for the Porcupine caribou herd

3.19. Average percent of area in low (< median) or high (> median) classes of a) daily rate of increase in the NDVI, b) NDVI at calving, and c) NDVI on 21 June for the aggregate extent of calving, annual calving grounds, and concentrated calving areas of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001

3.20. Average percent of area in 4 exclusive snowcover classes for the aggregate extent of calving, annual calving grounds, and concentrated calving areas of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001

3.21. Average percent of area in 6 vegetation types for the aggregate extent of calving, annual calving grounds, and concentrated calving areas of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001

3.22. Estimated total intake of dietary nitrogen from the calving ground for 4 North American caribou herds

3.23. Daily weight gain of caribou calves of the Porcupine herd, 1992-1994, during 2 time periods

3.24. Availability of 6 vegetation types in the aggregate extent of calving for the Porcupine caribou herd and use by radio-collared calves during 2 time periods for a) 1992, b) 1993, and c) 1994

3.25. Median NDVI on 21 June within the annual calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd and weights of parturient female caribou when captured within the annual calving ground on 21 June, 1992-1994

3.26. Calf survival through June for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001, in relation to median NDVI on 21 June within the aggregate extent of calving

3.27. Predicted calf survival through June for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001, in relation to median NDVI on 21 June within the annual calving ground and to the proportion of calves born on the coastal plain physiographic zone where predator density was lower than in the foothill-mountain zone

3.28. Estimated change in calf survival during June for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1985-2001, as a function of the distance of displacement of the annual calving ground and associated concentrated calving area and calving sites

3.29. Aggregate extent of annual calving and aggregate extent of concentrated calving for the Porcupine caribou herd, 1983-2001

4.1. Oil field infrastructure in the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk petroleum development areas, Alaska, 1994

4.2. Photocensus estimates of the Central Arctic caribou herd, 1978-2000, and net calf production based on observations of radio-collared adult females from 10 June through 15 August

4.3. Fractional changes in mean density of caribou from the Central Arctic herd between pre-construction (1978-1981) and post-construction (1982-1987) periods for 1-km-distance intervals from the Milne Point road system in the Kuparuk petroleum development area, Alaska

4.4. Changes in mean relative distribution of caribou from the Central Arctic herd in the Kuparuk petroleum development area, Alaska, during calving: 1979-1981, 1982-1986, and 1987-1990

4.5. Decline in percent abundance of caribou from the Central Arctic herd west of the Milne Point Road and changes in total numbers of caribou observed north of the Spine Road, 1979-87

4.6. Relationship between mean density of caribou from the Central Arctic herd and road density within preferred rugged terrain, Kuparuk petroleum development area, Alaska, 1987-1992

4.7. Shifts in concentrated calving areas, Central Arctic caribou herd, Alaska, 1980-1995

4.8. Logistic regressions of parturition rate, incidence of early calving, and perinatal calf survival on autumn and summer body weights of female caribou, Central Arctic herd, 1987-1991

4.9. Changes in median NDVI on 21 June for concentrated calving areas of the Central Arctic caribou herd in the reference zone(relatively undisturbed) and treatment zone (active oil fields), 1985-1995

4.10. Mean body weights of lactating and nonlactating female caribou from the Central Arctic herd in summer and autumn

4.11. Distributions of observed autumn body weights for lactating and nonlactating female caribou from the Central Arctic herd

5.1. Map of caribou forage study area, Porcupine caribou herd, on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge

6.1. Distribution of a) golden eagle nest structures, b) wolf dens, and c) grizzly bears near the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd

7.1. Number of muskoxen observed in the1002 Area of the Arctic Refuge, 1982-2001

7.2. Changes in rates of successful production of muskox calves in the1002 Area, Arctic Refuge, 1983-2001

7.3. Number of muskoxen killed or scavenged by grizzly bears from April 1982 through June 2001 in northeastern Alaska

7.4. Range expansion of muskoxen in mixed-sex groups in and near the Arctic Refuge, 1969-1993

7.5. Seasonal changes in rates of movement and activity counts of satellite-collared female muskoxen in and near the Arctic Refuge, 1986-1992

7.6. Locations of mixed-sex groups of muskoxen seen during winter and summer surveys in the Arctic Refuge, 1982-1999

7.7. Snow depth in muskox feeding zones, adjacent zones, and nonadjacent zones in late winter, 1989 and 1990 on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge

8.1. Numbers and relocation positions of satellite radio-collared polar bears captured in each of 6 longitudinal zones within the Beaufort Sea

8.2. Number of polar bear dens located by radio-telemetry in each of 3 substrates, 1981-1990

8.3. Maternal den locations for 5 polar bears followed to dens for more than one year

8.4. Distribution of maternal dens of radio-collared polar bears along the northern coast of Alaska and Canada, 1981-2001

9.1. Numbers of lesser snow geese observed on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, 1982-1993

9.2. Frequency of use of 25-km2 cells by lesser snow goose flocks on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, 1982-1993

9.3. Rates of lipid deposition by lesser snow geese during fall staging on the Arctic Refuge


List of Tables

2.1. Contingency table used to assess the accuracy of the land-cover map of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

2.2. Percent of each land-cover class in the land-cover map of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, and the percent partitioned among various terrain types

3.1. Number of calving sites, number of calving sites in the concentrated calving area (CCA), area of CCA, area of annual calving ground (ACG), ratio of sizes of CCA to ACG, and population size of the Porcupine caribou herd, 1983-2001

4.1. Parturition status of 43 radio-collared female caribou, Central Arctic herd, west and east of the Sagavanirktok River, 1988-1994

5.1. Median phenological stages of major forage species in the Porcupine caribou herd’s traditional calving area and potential displacement area

5.2. Median biomass and percent cover of 4 major caribou forage species in the 5 most common vegetation types on the coastal plain during the Porcupine caribou herd’s calving period, 1990

5.3. Median density, biomass, and percent cover of major forage species in the Porcupine caribou herd’s traditional calving area and potential displacement area, 1990-1991

5.4. Median nutrient and fiber concentrations of 2 major forage species in different phonological stages in the Porcupine caribou herd’s traditional caribou calving area and potential displacement area

5.5. Distribution of vegetation types in the caribou forage study area based on an independent sample of 756 systematically-located vegetation plots

5.6. Median nutrient and fiber concentrations of tussock cottongrass inflorescences in different phenological stages compared between tussock tundra and other vegetation types

7.1. Number of muskoxen seen in different regions in northeastern Alaska, USA, and northwestern Canada in 1982-2000 during pre-calving surveys


Authors' Addresses

Robert (Skip) Ambrose*
USFWS Endangered Species
Ecological Services Field Office-Fairbanks
101-12th Ave, Box 19
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Steven C. Amstrup
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Alan W. Brackney
USFWS Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Avenue Room 236
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Raymond D. Cameron*
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game
1300 College Road
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

David C. Douglas *
USGS Alaska Science Center
P.O. Box 240009
Douglas, Alaska 99824

Nancy A. Felix
USFWS Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Avenue Room 236
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Gerald W. Garner*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Brad Griffith
USGS Alaska Cooperative
Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
209 Irving I Building,
P.O. Box 757020
University of Alaska, Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK 99775

Jerry W. Hupp
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Janet C. Jorgenson
USFWS Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge
101-12th Ave, Room 236 Fairbanks, AK 99701

Peter C. Joria*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

David R. Klein*
Alaska Cooperative Fish and
Wildlife Research Unit
209 Irving Building
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775

Thomas R. McCabe*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Dan J. Reed
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game
1300 College Road
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Harry V. Reynolds
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game
1300 College Road
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Patricia E. Reynolds
USFWS Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge
101-12th Ave, Room 236
Fairbanks, AK 99701

Donna G. Robertson*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Donald E. Russell
Northern Conservation
Canadian Wildlife Service
91782 Alaska Highway
Whitehorse, Yukon Territories
Y1A587 Canada

Walter T. Smith
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game
1300 College Road
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Mark S. Udevitz
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Noreen E. Walsh*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Greg J. Weiler*
USFWS Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge
101 12th Avenue Room 236
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Robert G. White
Institute of Arctic Biology
University of Alaska-Fairbanks
902 Koyukuk Dr.
Irving I Bldg, Room 311
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Kenneth R. Whitten*
Alaska Department of
Fish and Game
1300 College Road
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

Kenneth J. Wilson*
Alaska Cooperative Fish
and Wildlife Research Unit
University of Alaska-Fairbanks
P.O. Box 757020
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775

Donald D. Young*
USGS Alaska Science Center
1011 E. Tudor Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

* Current addresses:

Robert Ambrose, National Park Service, WASO, NRPC, Ft. Collins, CO
Raymond D. Cameron, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 902 Koyukuk Dr., Irving I Bldg, Room 311, Fairbanks, AK 99701
David C. Douglas, USGS Alaska Science Center, 3100 National Park Service Rd., Juneau, AK 99801-8413
Gerald W. Garner, deceased
Peter C. Joria, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center, 2630 Fanta Reed Road, La Crosse, WI 54603
David R. Klein, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 902 Koyukuk Dr., Irving I Bldg, Room 311, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Thomas R. McCabe, USFWS Ecological Services, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, 177 Admiral Cochran Dr., Annapolis, MD 21401
Donna G. Robertson, Harding-Lawson and Associates, 601 E. 57th Place, Anchorage, AK 99518
Noreen E. Walsh, USFWS Ecological Services, Atlanta Field Office, 1875 Century Blvd. Room 200, Atlanta, GA 30345
Greg J. Weiler, USFWS Potomac NWR, 14344 Jefferson Davis Highway, Woodbridge, VA 22181
Kenneth R. Whitten, P.O. Box 81743, Fairbanks, AK 99708
Kenneth J. Wilson, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, P.O. Box 60469, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Donald D. Young, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 1300 College Road, Fairbanks, AK 99701


| Home | Section 1 - Introduction | Section 2 - Land Cover | Section 3 - Porcupine Caribou Herd |
| Section 4 - Central Arctic Caribou Herd | Section 5 - Forage Quantity and Quality | Section 6 - Predators |
| Section 7 - Muskoxen | Section 8 - Polar Bears | Section 9 - Snow Geese | Acknowledgements |

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