Voles, lemmings and caribou - population cycles revisited?

Anne Gunn

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/2.23.5.1689

Keywords

caribou; population cycle; Rangifer tarandus; abundance; decadal climatic variation; cohort memory

Abstract

Although we may be confident that many caribou populations fluctuate, we have not made much progress in linking patterns of fluctuations with their underlying processes. Caribou abundance is relatively synchronized across continents and over decades which points to climatic variation as a causative factor. Progress on describing intrinsic and extrinsic factors for smaller-bodied and larger-bodied mammalian herbivore population dynamics also reveals the role of climatic variation and specifically decadal variations. Based on experience elsewhere, we can expect complex relationships between caribou, climatic variation and their forage rather than simple correlations. Caribou responses to decadal trends in climate likely accumulate through successive cohorts as changes in body mass which, in turn, leads to changes in lifetime reproductive success.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Anne Gunn

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/