Caribou of all types are declining across Canada. In the last two decades, some of the most closely monitored populations of migratory caribou have decreased from hundreds of thousands to thousands of animals and populations of woodland caribou continue to disappear from landscapes. Those declines have garnered much attention from caribou-dependent communities and governments, spurring an unprecedented growth in research focused on better understanding the ecology of the species. That understanding provides a foundation from which we can identify more effective approaches for addressing Canada’s unfolding caribou crisis. Graham Caughley’s (1994) review of the declining- and small-population paradigm is an excellent framework for assessing our management and recovery efforts for caribou. Caughley concluded, “The declining-population paradigm is urgently in need of more theory. The small-population paradigm needs more practice.” Our recent experience with managing and conserving Canada’s barren-ground and woodland caribou provides some insights on theory and many examples of successful and failed practices. Drawing from Caughley’s (1994) seminal work, I will review our understanding of the current decline of caribou as well as the challenges of maintaining very small populations. I will provide some insights on the future of caribou in Canada including past and emerging challenges that test the limits of our science, including Caughley’s sage advice, as well as society’s willingness to conserve this iconic species.
The Natural Resources & Environmental Studies Institute (NRESi) at UNBC hosts a weekly lecture series at the Prince George campus. Anyone from the university or wider community with interest in the topic area is welcome to attend. Presentations are also made available to remote participants through Livestream (Channel 1). Go to http://www.unbc.ca/nres-institute/colloquium-webcasts to view the presentation remotely.
Past NRESi colloquium presentations and special lectures can be viewed on our video archive, available here.