Changes Ahoof: Could Climate Change Affect Arctic Caribou?

Students run a simplified computer model to explore how climate conditions can affect caribou, the most abundant grazing animal in the Arctic.

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educators should point out the relationship between the discussed variables and caribou population: When insect activity increases (i.e. mosquitoes), a loss of blood results in a decrease in caribou population. When snow levels increase, energy consumption increases and inability to escape predators results in a decrease in caribou population.

Educators should explain the relationship between increasing snowfall and arctic warming, which is counter-intuitive and not explained.

Students need to understand percent increase and decrease in order to complete this activity; an example calculation is provided.

Educators could add other resources that explain the effect of insects and snowfall on caribou population and discuss with students. See, for example: