Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Indicator #02, Wild Reindeer and Caribou

Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Indicator #02, Wild Reindeer and Caribou

Wild reindeer and caribou, Rangifer tarandus, are widely distributed around the circumpolar Arctic where they play a key role in the environment, culture, and economy of the region. Their migrations often involve several hundred thousand individuals. Being sometimes so abundant, these medium-sized herbivores support a diversity of large- (grizzly bears, Ursus arctos horribilis) and medium-sized predators (wolves, Canis lupus, and wolverines, Gulo gulo), as well as scavengers. They are also an important part of the nutrient cycle in the Arctic. Terrestrial Arctic habitats are mostly nutrient-limited and reindeer and caribou, through their forage intake and output (i.e., fecal pellets ), could have complex and cascading effects.


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