The Importance of Continuous Dialogue in Community-Based Wildlife Monitoring: Case Studies of Dzan and łuk Dagaii in the Gwich’in Settlement Area

Rachel Hovel, Jeremy Brammer, Emma Hodgson, Amy Amos, Trevor Lantz, Chanda Turner, Tracey Proverbs, Sarah Lord
Resource Date:
Page Length

Rapid environmental change in the Arctic elicits numerous concerns for ecosystems, natural resources, and ways of life. Robust monitoring is essential to adaptation and management in light of these challenges, and community-based monitoring (CBM) projects can enhance these efforts by highlighting traditional knowledge, ensuring that questions are locally important, and informing natural resource conservation and management. Implementation of CBM projects can vary widely depending on project goals, the communities, and the partners involved, and we feel there is value in sharing CBM project examples in different contexts. Here, we describe two projects in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA), Canada, and highlight the process in which local management agencies set monitoring and research priorities. Dzan (muskrat; Ondatra zibethicus (Linnaeus, 1766)) and łuk dagaii (broad whitefish; Coregonus nasus (Pallas, 1776)) are species of great cultural importance and are the focus of CBM projects conducted with concurrent social science research. We share challenges and lessons from our experiences, offer insights into operating CBM projects in the GSA, and present resources for researchers interested in pursuing wildlife research in this region. CBM projects provide rich opportunities for benefitting managers, communities, and external researchers, particularly when the projects are built on a foundation of careful and continuous dialogue between partners.