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Rudolf's kin more than just Santa's ride
Date:12/23/2008

Better known as reindeer during the holiday season, caribou are also central to the health and vitality of the Far North. Revered by many cultures, the caribou could soon become endangered by threats such as oil exploration and climate change, according to a new book by authors from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund.

Titled Caribou and the North: A Shared Future (Dundurn Press Toronto, $50/29.00), the book highlights the caribou in terms of its natural history; ecological importance in boreal, mountain, and Arctic ecosystems; and steps conservationists, wildlife managers, and governments can take in protecting the future of this unique deer species.

"The caribou is central to the normal function of northern ecosystems," said Dr. Justina Ray, Executive Director of WCS-Canada and a co-author of the book. "With their huge range requirements and need for intact landscapes, these animals are serving as the litmus test for whether we will succeed in taking care of their needs in an area that is under intensifying pressure."

Written for specialists and lay readers alike, Caribou and the North presents a comprehensive profile of this species, with biological information on what makes caribou different from other deercaribou are the only deer species where males and females both possess antlersand their superb adaptations to a cold weather existence (they even have hair on the bottoms of their feet).

Caribou also have the distinction of being the most abundant large land-dwelling animal of the Far North and have learned to exploit a number of ecosystems: tundra, boreal forests, mountains, and polar deserts. Some populations, such as the famous Porcupine Herd of the Yukon and eastern Alaska embark on epic migrations, whereas the Narrow Lake population of British Columbia's boreal forest remains in the same habitat year-round. Caribou also serve as nutrient dispersers in tundra ecosystems and form an i
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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