population monitoring

Content related to: population monitoring

Sustainability of Arctic Communities

How will climate change affect the sustainability of Arctic villages over the next forty years? This question motivated a collaboration of 23 researchers and four Arctic communities (Old Crow, YT Canada; Aklavik, NT Canada; Fort McPherson, NT Canada; and Arctic Village, AK USA) in or near the range of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. We drew on existing research and local knowledge to examine potential effects of climate change, petroleum development, tourism, and government spending cutbacks on the sustainability of four Arctic villages. We used data across eight disciplines to develop an Arctic Community Synthesis Model and a web-based, interactive Possible Futures Model. Results suggested that climate warming will increase vegetation biomass within the herd’s summer range. However, despite forage increasing, the herd was projected as likely to decline with a warming climate due to increased insect harassment in the summer and potentially greater winter snow depths. There was a strong negative correlation between hypothetical, development-induced displacement of cows and calves from utilized calving grounds and calf survival during June. The results suggested that climate warming coupled with petroleum development would cause a decline in caribou harvest by local communities. Because the Synthesis Model inherits uncertainties associated with each component model, sensitivity analysis is required. Scientists and stakeholders agreed that: 1) although simulation models are incomplete abstractions of the real world, they helped bring scientific and community knowledge together; and, 2) relationships established across disciplines and between scientists and communities were a valuable outcome of the study.


Caribou Migration, Subsistence Hunting, and User Group Conflicts in Northwest Alaska: A Traditional Knowledge perspective

Project Objectives:

  • To document local and traditional knowledge on caribou, caribou hunting, hunting conflicts
  • To support subsistence and caribou resources
  • To have Noatak people give feedback on caribou management

Purpose of this Study:

  • Document the traditional knowledge of Noatak hunters' on caribou distribution and movements, and to document how Noatak hunters' interactions with non-local hunters are affecting their caribou hunting experiences
  • Part of a larger National Park Service funded project, examining perceptions of sport hunters, soundscapes effect on caribou, and collared caribou movements
  • No previous effort has documented local and traditional knowledge of caribou as held by Noatak people
  • We sought to understand to what extent Noatak caribou hunters have experienced encounters with non-locals hunters, and how those encounters are affecting their hunting experience and success
  • We also examined perceived importance of not seeing non- locals while caribou hunting, compared to other facets of hunting
  • This poster presents preliminary results from the first phase of the study, which included surveys with 62 active caribou harvesters in Noatak. The second phase of this study included participatory mapping with local caribou "experts"

Project Outcomes or Intended Outcomes:

The Noatak Caribou Traditional Knowledge Project documented a wealth of knowledge by local Noatak hunters about a range of topics ‒ on caribou behavior, migration, and hunting practices. The study also documented the interactions and experiences of local hunters with non-local hunters and commercial operators working in and near the Noatak National Preserve.

The findings of this study show that caribou hunters of Noatak are concerned that caribou migration is changing. These changes are seen to be due to a number of factors, but mostly because of the presence of aircraft and non-local hunters in the region. Predation by wolves and bears, climate change, and habitat change were also identified as having negative impacts to caribou migration and caribou hunting. Noatak hunters reported that safety and harvest of caribou largely determine what makes for a successful caribou hunt. Noatak hunters reported that these changes have resulted in a decrease in harvesting caribou, with hunters having to go on longer and more caribou hunting trips, and seeing more people out while hunting. Local and non-local hunters often used the same areas along the Noatak River, both inside and outside special areas, such as the National Park Service Commercial Use Area and the Noatak Controlled Use Area, and often during same hunting seasons (fall). Noatak hunters have specific ideas on how management of caribou hunting could be improved and hope their ideas will be considered by decision makers.


Environmental Assessment in NWT

Used Aboriginal traditional knowledge and science to identify several seasonal range attributes that were examined for changes from 1996 through 2013 (decreasing population abundance of the Bathurst caribou herd). Seasonal range attributes were calculated from female collared caribou and climate data were also analyzed for temporal trends that may be correlated with changes in seasonal ranges.


Social-ecological Reclamation in the Northwest Territories: A Framework for Healing Human-caribou Relations

The impacts of mining activity on human-caribou relationships in the Northwest Territories have been a focus of study in both the natural and social sciences for decades. Guided by Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation elders and harvesters, this study used dendrochronology methods and best practices for Traditional Knowledge research in the community, to explore historical and contemporary patterns of caribou movements near Gahcho Kué, Northwest Territories (63° 48’ N, -109° 8’ W). Data from trample scars analyzed from this site suggest that the area has been a critical habitat for caribou particularly during the years 1990-2005. Traditional Knowledge from local Indigenous peoples, suggests that reclamation of current mine sites in the range of the Bathurst caribou herd must be done in ways that ensure human-caribou relations and landscapes are healed for future generations.

The results are consistent with trample scar research in Bathurst range and previously documented Traditional Knowledge that asserts caribou have started moving away from the area since the dramatic increase of mining activity in the region with significant social, economic and cultural consequences for Indigenous peoples. The study outcomes may be of interest to policy makers and others involved in reclamation seeking insights about patterns of caribou activity in the region preceding the advent of significant mining activity.

With the aim of contributing to the literature on community-based resource management, this thesis argues that a social-ecological approach based on both science and Traditional Knowledge can improve the reclamation and process for both people and caribou.