To elucidate these potential “bottom up” effects of climate changes to Arctic ungulates and evaluate the trophic mismatch hypothesis, the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (ALCC), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Teck, Inc., and the National Park Service provided funding in 2012-14 to incorporate the calving and summer range of the Western Arctic caribou herd (WAH) into an ongoing inter-agency research and monitoring effort to examine the influences of climate change on the nutrient dynamics of caribou forages. This work is leveraging existing projects on the North Slope of Alaska that are primarily funded through the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative. Field work on the spatio-temporal characteristics of summer habitats for the Teshekpuk (TCH) and Central Arctic (CAH) caribou herds commenced in May 2011 and terminated in September 2013; these efforts were fully funded through the USGS and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (Fig. 1). Fieldwork in northwest Alaska commenced in May 2013 and terminated in October 2014. The north-south transect along the western boundary of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Fig. 1) was intended to: 1) expand the scope and inference of these current habitat monitoring efforts, 2) facilitate spatio-temporal comparisons of habitat characteristics among historical ranges of caribou, and 3) improve the empirical framework for bio-climate models that will help to evaluate the potential nutritional implications of a warming Arctic to important subsistence resources, such as caribou and other ungulate populations, throughout the North Slope.
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