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Ecological Change and Livelihoods


Biocultural Place:

The proposed knowledge hub encompasses the summer range of the Porcupine Caribou herd (PCH) in northern Yukon and the Richardson Mountains of the Northwest Territories. Hundreds of thousands of caribou shape the landscape and feed populations of grizzly bears, wolves, red fox, and wolverine. At the northern edges of this region are polar bears, arctic fox, seals, and whales, while muskrat, beaver, and marten spill in from the south. Considered together with migratory species of birds (e.g. geese, ducks, raptors, etc.), fish (e.g. dolly varden), and other resident species (e.g. pika, ptarmigan, insects), an abundance of biodiversity supports a wealth of cultural diversity, including the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in communities of Aklavik, Old Crow, and Fort McPherson. These communities have stewarded these lands through considerable social, political, and environmental changes by leading the creation of structured co-management agreements. People from these communities are socially, culturally, and nutritionally dependent upon these ecosystems and its biodiversity through their travel, hunting, fishing, gathering, and other cultural activities.


Knowledge Leaders:

  • Deana Lemke, Porcupine Caribou Management Board

  • Trevor Lantz, University of Victoria


Knowledge Collaborators:

  • Kaitlin Wilson, Program Manager, Wildlife Management Advisory Council North Slope

  • Amy Amos, Executive Director, Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board

  • Michelle Gruben, Resource Coordinator, Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee

  • Jeremy Brammer, Fish and Wildlife Manager, Vuntut Gwitchin

  • Colleen Arnison, Resource Conservation Manager, Parks Canada

  • Murray Humphries, Professor, McGill University

  • Isla Myers-Smith, Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh

  • Heather Johnson, Research Wildlife Biologist, US Geological Survey

  • Mike Suitor, Regional Biologist, Government of Yukon 


Other Collaborating Organizations:

  • Wildlife Management Advisory Council North Slope

  • Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board

  • Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee

  • Vuntut Gwitchin Government, Parks Canada

  • McGill University

  • University of Edinburgh

  • US Geological Survey

  • Government of Yukon


Hub Focus and Goals:

A central objective of this knowledge hub is to document changes in wildlife populations contributing to the traditional food security of partner communities. By characterizing changes and developing predictive models based on landscape habitat associations, our work will facilitate the development of local adaptation (e.g. harvest management plans, harvester support funds) that account for climate-driven shifts in the abundance of culturally significant and regionally novel species. Ensuring appropriate strategies are available to adapt subsistence activities in the face of potentially dramatic changes to this landscape is critical in ensuring the long-term well-being of communities in the region. The direct integration of communities, agencies, academia, and co-management organizations will help ensure that local monitoring and observation plays a key role in the hub during this project and moving forward. The hub will mobilize the knowledge of communities in the PCH range through a hub governance structure that involves local-level organizations and Indigenous knowledge holders. Annual land-based gatherings will serve as a key mechanism to share research findings within the hub.  Project administration will be directed by the Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) and research themes (i.e., Wildlife, Vegetation, Indigenous Knowledge) will be overseen by steering groups that include representatives of Indigenous, co-management, and academic organizations. A central goal of the knowledge hub is to create capacity to support monitoring and research conducted by northern organizations and communities, including Inuvialuit and Gwich’in knowledge of changes to wildlife and their habitats.

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