Limiting factors in caribou population ecology
AbstractCaribou and wild reindeer populations fluctuate over time. On this fact there is general agreement. Factors responsible for population limitation and subsequent declines have been examined within the framework of animal population theory. There is, however, little agreement when factors limiting specific populations are generalized to Rangifer populations over broad geographic regions. Comparative examinations of wild Rangifer populations worldwide discloses that factors that have regulated those populations are highly variable between populations, apparently as a reflection of the differences in environmental variables unique to each population. Examples exist of populations where major regulating factors have been climatic extremes, predation, hunting mortality, food limitation, insects, parasites, disease, interspecific competition, and human developmental impacts or combinations of these factors. This diversity of limiting factors affecting caribou and wild reindeer populations is a reflection of the ecologial complexity of the species, a concept that has often been ignored in past efforts to reach management decisions by extrapolation from the limited localized knowledge available on the species.
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