Taimyr Reindeer Migration Reanalysis (TAMARA)
Reindeer or Caribou (Rangifer tarandus L.) inhabit Arctic lands in Eurasia and North America. An important part of Arctic ecosystems and Aboriginal livelihood, wild reindeer have been monitored by scientists for almost 50 years. During this time, herds have exhibited large changes in size and these changes have been recorded in almost all herds across the animals range. The increase in the number of wild reindeer 20-30 years ago was almost universally followed by a significant population loss in the last decade. In addition, recent monitoring revealed substantial shifts in the distribution of wild populations. The decline in wild reindeer is likely related to natural cycles and changes in the Arctic environment caused by climate change and increased anthropogenic activity. In order to explain the observed changes in the abundance and distribution of reindeer, it is necessary to collect long-term and seasonal observations. The Taimyr Reindeer Herd (TRH) is both the largest and the longest monitored wild reindeer herd in Eurasia. The Extreme North Agricultural Research Institute in Noril’sk, Russia, has observed the TRH since 1969. Only a limited amount of the information on the TRH has been released, digitized, processed, analyzed or published. Much of the information is held in single-copy paper in locations and under conditions that threaten its longevity. This project aims to digitize all available past records concerning the Taimyr wild reindeer populations and develop related datasets on climate and habitat over the decades of observation. The Taimyr Reindeer Migration Reanalysis (TAMARA) project will be based upon a collaborative and integrated interdisciplinary international network of reindeer experts, arctic researchers, and geospatial scientists. The project is designed to build a comprehensive and openly available information system that will provide insight into the historical relationship between humans, climate, environment, and reindeer. Building on both international and local experiences the investigators will implement a major data digitization and dissemination effort that will be a considerable contribution to the polar cyberinfrastructure pertaining to Arctic terrestrial mammals. The project has the following objectives: 1) Retrieve, digitize, archive, transfer, process and publish historical observational data collected between 1969 and 2009, document relevant methodologies, and develop appropriate metadata; 2) Develop value-added data products resulting from the (re)analysis of historical spatial migration patterns of the TRH; and 3) Contribute to developing polar spatial cyberinfrastructure by creating a comprehensive and open data visualization and data dissemination system. The TAMARA project will be an integral part of the worldwide network of reindeer observation programs. The project will involve US and Russian scientists and students, supporting one graduate student and two part-time undergraduates. Results will be widely disseminated to local residents and stakeholders. The project will contribute to the early career development of a young investigator.