Energy expenditures of caribou while cratering in snow
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Steve G. Fancy; Robert G. White
Publication Year: 1985

Cataloging Information

  • caribou
  • cratering
  • energy
  • lichen
  • Rangifer tarandus
  • snow
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 3, 2015
FRAMES Record Number: 3983


The rate of energy expenditure by caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) digging in snow for lichens was determined by heart rate telemetry and an analysis of cratering mechanics. Based on significant linear relationship between energy expenditure and heart rate, the mean cost per digging stroke in light, uncrusted snow was 118 J, whereas in denser (0.36g/cm/3) snow with a thin, hard crust the mean cost was 219 J/stroke. The cost of cratering through snow compacted by snowmobile was 481 J/stroke. A comparison of metabolic and mechanical energy required for cratering suggested that caribou have evolved an energetically-efficient mechanism for obtaining food from beneath the snow layer.

Online Link(s):
Fancy, Steve G.; White, Robert G. 1985. Energy expenditures of caribou while cratering in snow. Journal of Wildlife Management 49(4):987-993.