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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • landscape disturbance;
  • population dynamics;
  • Rangifer tarandus;
  • zoology

Abstract

Caribou and reindeer herds are declining across their circumpolar range, coincident with increasing arctic temperatures and precipitation, and anthropogenic landscape change. Here, we examine the mechanisms by which climate warming and anthropogenic landscape change influence caribou and reindeer population dynamics, namely changes in phenology, spatiotemporal changes in species overlap, and increased frequency of extreme weather events, and demonstrate that many caribou and reindeer herds show demographic signals consistent with these changes. While many caribou and reindeer populations historically fluctuated, the current, synchronous population declines emphasize the species' vulnerability to global change. Loss of caribou and reindeer will have significant, negative socioeconomic consequences for northern indigenous cultures.