by Marian and Mike Ferguson
The land mammals of Nunavut models of adaptive perfection
have helped sustain Arctic inhabitants for more than 4,000 years by providing raw
materials for tools, food, clothing and shelter. Each species is uniquely adapted to
survive Nunavut's harsh, unstable terrestrial ecosystems and temperature extremes. These
mammals are subjected to wider temperature extremes than their arctic marine counterparts.
Since the abbreviated arctic summer provides resident populations
little opportunity to recover from harsh winters, the diversity of species in Nunavut is
low compared with warmer parts of the world. Nevertheless, the adaptive success of these
few species is witnessed in the massive numbers their populations sometimes reach, and the
proven ability of remnant populations to recover after decades at low numbers. In turn,
the peoples who have lived in the Arctic have proven their ability to adapt,
prospering despite dependence on such wildly fluctuating environments and resources.
With some planning and luck, visitors to Nunavut will have an
opportunity to observe many of these unique species in their natural habitats. The sheer
expanse of the territory makes it unlikely that you could view all species during one
visit, but residents can advise you where, when and how to see wildlife of greatest
interest to you. Although not all populations are migratory, most exhibit seasonal
behaviors that make them difficult to observe at some times.
About Barren-Ground Grizzlies
About Wolves & Wolverines
About Foxes, Weasels, Lemmings and Hares
*Reproduced from the Nunavut Handbook