Terrestrial Mammal Ecology Research

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Understanding the population dynamics, predator/prey relationships and habitat ecology of terrestrial mammals, such as caribou and muskoxen, is critical for the management of these species and their habitats in Alaska.

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Research conducted by the USGS Alaska Science Center on terrestrial mammals is focused on informing Department of Interior management decisions across Alaska.  Our work provides timely and highly relevant scientific information for management issues such as the response of caribou to a warming climate and human development, future possible changes in distribution and abundance, and the effects of changing habitats used for forage.

Population dynamics

Why do caribou populations fluctuate?  Why do their migration patterns change year after year? How healthy is the herd?  Working in collaboration with multiple partners in Alaska, the USGS is addressing these common questions for caribou populations in Alaska.  Read more here: Improving calf survival of the Chisana Caribou Herd

Response of caribou to industrial infrastructure

Are Arctic caribou habituated to energy development on the North Slope?  Do caribou use habitats near and within the oilfields in northern Alaska?  Read more here: Caribou use of habitat near energy development in Arctic Alaska 

Forage and weather

Will caribou be impacted by changes in weather, insects and plant forages?  Are their habitats changing? 
Read more here: Resilience of caribou to climatic shifts in the Arctic 

Three caribou from the Porcupine Herd standing on the tundra

Three caribou standing in the tundra.  These caribou are part of the Porcupine caribou herd.
(Credit: Andrew Ramey, USGS. Public domain.)