News Round-Up

Tiny insects cause big threat to woodland caribou


Threats to Canada’s endangered woodland caribou can be traced back to spruce budworm infestations and salvage logging, says a paper co-authored by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researcher Dr. Philip McLoughlin (PhD).

“Spruce budworms kill the forest, which then leads to a flush of vegetation of benefit to moose. More moose means more wolves, and caribou don’t do well when there’s a lot of wolves around,” said McLoughlin, an associate professor of biology in USask’s College of Arts and Science.

The paper published this week in the prestigious journal, PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), says spruce budworm outbreaks recur about every 30 years, and has an effect similar to forest fires and human-caused disruptions such as logging, with the impact reverberating across the complex food chain. MORE