A valuable contribution to the doctoral work of a wildlife biologist Winner of the CFUW Memorial Award 2012

Joélle Taillon

Having been awarded a CFUW Memorial Award was a major financial contribution during the final year of my PhD. This award provided security and independence for completing my thesis and also allowed me to pursue my efforts in communicating with general and scientific audiences.

The CFUW award allowed me to stay focused on my work, to finalize the writing of my thesis and prepare for my PhD defense. These are major events for a PhD student and being free of financial worries was a blessing.

This award is an honor and an important encouragement for students during their graduate studies. I am also very proud of having been supported by an organization promoting graduate studies for women – who are increasingly represented at the graduate level, and successful at completing masters and PhD programs. Finally, adding the CFUW award to my CV was also an important contribution, as it strove forward the quality of my work.

After a year working in New Zealand, I decided to return to Canada to complete my PhD at the Université Laval because it is a top-ranking francophone university with high-profile research on wild ungulates. My research was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Steeve D. Côté (Université Laval) and Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet (Université de Sherbrooke), who are both leaders of Caribou-Ungava research program (http://www.caribou-ungava.ulaval.ca/en/accueil/). In 2013, I received my Doctorate in Biology; my thesis is titled: Body condition, maternal allocation and spatio-temporal use of calving grounds by migratory caribou (Rangifer tarandus). During the completion of my PhD, I also collaborated at the initial stage of the research program Caribou Ungava that was officially launched in 2009. Caribou Ungava is now led by top-ranking academic researchers in wild ungulates ecology and involves several wildlife biologists from Quebec Government.

The major objectives of my PhD work were to better understand the factors influencing the change in the location, the selection and the use of calving grounds of two migratory caribou herds in Northern Quebec and Labrador and to better understand the factors influencing the body condition of females and calves from birth to weaning. I believe my work can help identifying factors influencing population dynamics and better protecting calving grounds of migratory caribou herds, which are identified as critical habitats for this species. Very few studies have quantified changes in the use of seasonal ranges, yet this data is essential for habitat protection.

In the light of novel threats such as industrial development and climate change, I believe that the work done through my PhD and the networks created by research programs such as Caribou Ungava are highly relevant and essential for the conservation of migratory caribou. I believe that research results and collaborations are urgently needed by managers, conservationists and scientists dealing with declining populations of caribou and reindeer throughout the circumpolar.

Since completing my PhD in early 2013, I have been working as a wildlife biologist for the wildlife division of Quebec government (secteur de la faune, Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, Gouvernement du Québec). I am currently in charge of writing the new management plans for the two migratory caribou herds ranging in northern Quebec. My position involves analyzing data to establish the status of the herds and identifying research and management objectives. Writing up a management plan also involves working in collaboration with several collaborators such as research groups (Caribou Ungava), networks (CARMA), wildlife biologists from the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland-and-Labrador, and different partners and stakeholders involved in the conservation of caribou in the North: government agencies (Québec and Labrador), Aboriginal peoples, Hydro-Québec, outfitting and hunting federations and industrial developers (e.g. miners). It is a great challenge.

I believe it is the best place to be if I want to use my knowledge as a researcher and a biologist to plan for the future of the migratory caribou in northern Quebec.


Scientific papers (peer-reviewed papers)

Papers from my PhD study

  • Taillon, J., P.S. Barboza, and S.D. Côté. 2013. Nitrogen allocation to offspring and milk production in a capital breeder. Ecology 94: 1815-1827.
  • Ducrocq, J., G. Beauchamp, S. Kutz, M. Simard, J. Taillon, S.D. Côté, V. Brodeur, and S. Lair. 2012. Variables associated with Besnoitia tarandi prevalence and cyst density in barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 49 29-38.
  • Forde, T., K. Orsel, J. De Buck, D. Cooley, S.D. Côté, C. Cuyler, T. Davison, B. Elkin, A. Kelly, M. Kienzler, R. Popko, J. Taillon, A. Veitch, and S. Kutz. 2012. Detection of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in several herds of arctic caribou (Rangifer tarandus ssp.). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 48: 918-924.
  • Ducrocq, J., G. Beauchamp, S.J. Kutz, M. Simard, B. Elkin, B. Croft, J. Taillon, S.D. Côté, V. Brodeur, M. Campbell, D. Cooley, C. Cuyler, and S. Lair. 2012. Comparison of gross visual and microscopic assessment of four anatomic sites to monitor Besnoitia tarandi in barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 48: 732-738.
  • Taillon, J., V. Brodeur, M. Festa-Bianchet and S.D. Côté. 2012. Is mother condition related to offspring condition in migratory caribou at calving and weaning? Canadian Journal of Zoology, 90: 393-402.
  • Taillon, J., M. Festa-Bianchet and S.D. Côté. 2012. Shifting targets in the tundra: protection of migratory caribou calving grounds must account for spatial changes over time. Biological Conservation, 147: 163–173.
  • Taillon, J., V. Brodeur, M. Festa-Bianchet and S.D. Côté. 2011. Variation in body condition of migratory caribou at calving and weaning – which measures should we use? Ecoscience 18: 295-303.


  • Prescott, J., J. Ferron, and J. Taillon. 2013. Sur la piste des cervidés. Orinha media. 262 p.
  • Côté, S.D., M. Festa-Bianchet, C. Dussault, J.-P. Tremblay, V. Brodeur, M. Simard, J. Taillon, C. Hins, M. Le Corre et S. Sharma, 2012. Caribou herd dynamics: impacts of climate change on traditional and sport harvesting, p. 249-269 in M. Allard and M. Lemay (eds). Nunavik and Nunatsiavut: From science to policy. An Integrated Regional Impact Study (IRIS) of climate change and modernization. ArcticNet Inc., Quebec City, Canada, 303p.

Popular science articles

  • Taillon J. Winter 2013-14. Le porc-épic. Nature Sauvage. In press.
  • Taillon J. Fall 2012. Le vison d’Amérique : un prédateur qui n’a pas peur de se mouiller. Nature Sauvage. p. 16-21.
  • Taillon J. Winter 2012-13. Le morse : grand barbu marin. Nature Sauvage. p. 16-21.
  • Taillon J. Fall 2012. Le coyote : entre chien et loup. Nature Sauvage. p.16-21.