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Land Mammals

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.

See Also:

pp-redarrow.gif (860 bytes)  About Caribou

pp-redarrow.gif (860 bytes)  About Muskoxen

pp-redarrow.gif (860 bytes)  About Barren-Ground Grizzlies

pp-redarrow.gif (860 bytes)  About Wolves & Wolverines

pp-redarrow.gif (860 bytes)  About Foxes, Weasels, Lemmings and Hares

*Reproduced from the Nunavut Handbook