Large herbivores are one of the most critical components in Arctic Systems as they are essential to sustainable communities and are woven into the fabric of the Arctic. Reindeer and caribou provide a high quality protein resource for rural and urban communities, and they are an economic and cultural cornerstone for many in the Arctic, including those that rely on reindeer herding. Reindeer and caribou also provide a resource for sport and subsistence hunting in places like Alaska, and the foraging behavior of these herbivores can affect vegetation attributes and thus biophysical properties of the land surface, and subsequently ecosystem processes and feedbacks to climate.
Today, there is an increasing need to fully understand the trajectory of reindeer & caribou systems (RCS) in the Arctic. We recognize that there are natural fluctuations in these populations, but we are less certain as to what factors and feedbacks, be it environmental, social or biophysical processes that are the primary driving forces today, in the past and what is in store for the future.
This session seeks to bring together those that study a range of attributes of RCS in the Arctic from new herding practices, the role of RCS in the cultural integrity of communities and regions and scientific studies, projects and findings that begin to revel the mechanisms behind population trends, animal health, migration ecology, climate-herbivore interactions and the role of top-down and or bottom up controls of RCS.