Scientific Assessment to Inform the Identification of Critical Habitat for Woodland Caribou, Boreal Population, in Canada - 2011 Update: Definitions

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Bio-Physical Attributes
Any and all geological, vegetative, topographical, climatological, physical, chemical, or biological attributes, or suite of attributes, that constitute habitat for the species at risk.

Critical Habitat
The habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species (Species at Risk Act, S.2).

Current Distribution (Extent of Occurrence)
The area that encompasses the geographic distribution of all known boreal caribou ranges (COSEWIC 2010-Adapted from IUCN 2010), based on provincial and territorial distribution maps developed from observation and telemetry data, local knowledge (including in some cases Aboriginal and Traditional Knowledge), and biophysical analyses.

Demographic Parameters
Refers to the characteristics of a group of animals within a defined area. They include population trend, size, adult female survival and calf recruitment.

The suite of resources (food, shelter), and environmental conditions (abiotic variables such as temperature, and biotic variables such as competitors and predators), that determine the presence, survival, and reproduction of a population (Caughley and Gunn 1996).

Local Population
A group of caribou occupying a defined area distinguished spatially from areas occupied by other groups of caribou. Local population dynamics are driven primarily by local factors affecting birth and death rates, rather than immigration or emigration among groups.

The survival of a population, expressed as a given probability or likelihood over a specified time frame. The likelihood of not achieving specified persistence levels is a measure of risk of extirpation (i.e., local extinction).

A geographic area occupied by a group of individuals that are subjected to the same influences affecting vital rates over a defined time frame.

Self-Sustaining Population
A local population of boreal caribou that on average demonstrates stable or positive population growth over the short term (≤20 years), and is large enough to withstand stochastic events and persist over the long-term (≥50 years), without the need for ongoing active management intervention (e.g., predator management or transplants from other populations).

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