Modelling threats to caribou in Ontario’s Ring of Fire – by Claire Farrell (Canadian Geographic – October 26, 2021)

For caribou in the far north region of Ontario, there are storm clouds gathering. A recent analysis published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, which I helped to coauthor, projected possible population declines of anywhere from 17 to 30 per cent for northern caribou over the next 50 years.

There are two major factors behind this decline: climate change and expanding resource development, including a race to develop the mineral-rich Ring of Fire area in the Hudson Bay lowlands. These factors will combine to make life a lot more difficult for caribou in multiple ways.

But it is in understanding the multiple ways that caribou will struggle with the combined impacts of climate-driven landscape changes and human development that things get tricky.

Things in nature are deeply intertwined — changes in one species can cascade to another. For example, in the computer modelling work in the paper, researchers had to look just as much at the impacts of a changing climate on moose as on caribou.

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