The recently diminished caribou (Rangifer tarandus) population in insular Newfoundland, Canada, has been severely limited by predation on newborn calves. These neonates are patchily distributed on the landscape; therefore, to adequately understand predator–prey interactions, the temporal and geographic extent of the distribution of caribou calves must be identified so that current areas with calves can be differentiated from areas without calves. We used telemetry locations of 309 caribou calves and 100 adult females from 4 herds, 2008–2010, to estimate the spatiotemporal distribution of caribou calves during the time when they were most vulnerable to predation, to evaluate the predictability of the calf resource among years, and to assess the degree of aggregation during calving. Patterns of calf distribution were predictable in time and space from year to year, with an average distributional overlap of 68% between years. The dispersion of female caribou during calving varied among herds from highly aggregated (8% and 20% of herd range) to more dispersed (50–70% of herd range). Postcalving (up to 9 weeks) distributions also varied among herds; the 2 more-dispersed herds remained sedentary, whereas both highly aggregated herds migrated away from their calving grounds at the end of June. The most-aggregated herd remained so as it migrated from its calving ground, whereas the less-aggregated herd spread out and moved in a variety of predictable directions. Dispersion and movement patterns varied with forest cover; herds with less forest cover in their range were more aggregated and migratory than herds with more forest cover.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2