Altitudinal Movements and Summer Habitat Preferences of Woodland Caribou in the Kluane Ranges, Yukon Territory


  • Sebastian M. Oosenbrug
  • John B. Theberge



Animal distribution, Animal food, Animal migration, Caribou, Mountains, Plant distribution, Ungulates, Wildlife habitat, Kluane Lake region, Yukon


The altitudinal movements, preferred topography and plant communities of 150 to 200 woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) were recorded for two summers. Nine subalpine or alpine tundra communities constituting their major summer range were quantitatively described. Caribou calved in shrub communities between 1300 and 1450 m, moving upward as the summer progressed. Stags and associated juveniles preferred higher elevations than did other groupings. Caribou disproportionately chose north-facing slopes of less than 20 deg. They fed in birch-sedge meadow and sedge meadow communities nearly twice as much as expected from the areal extent of the communities, and also disproportionately chose other communities with high sedge components. The presence of sedges was the predominant vegetational characteristic chosen regardless of elevations, with only minor differences between caribou sex and age groupings.