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Population Trends:
Pattens and Prediction

  Imagine you are a scientist studying population of the caribou for the last 48 years! What kinds of things can you learn from studying this table of population numbers? Since the herd was first counted in 1979 the population has fluctuated greatly..

Photo courtesy of PCMB

What makes the herd change sizes every year? Take some time to study the population graph at the right, grab your journals and think like a population scientist while working towards understanding this complex issue.

Journaling Questions

  1. "What questions did the graph give you about population size?"
  2. "What was the largest and smallest herd sizes over the past 48 years (the range)? What was their mean?"
  3. Do you see a pattern emerge? If so can you describe it?
  4. Can you predict what the population might be the next census?
  5. "What factors could cause these changes in herd numbers? List as many different factors as you can think of."

We asked Alaskan wildlife biologist, Dr. Stephen M. Arthur to explain his thoughts about population changes. Take a look at his response to the same questions. How did you do?