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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Lack of Reproduction in Muskoxen and
Arctic Hares Caused by Early Winter?

Study Area and Methods

The study area included a 150 km² region of the Fosheim Peninsula in a 180° arc north of Eureka, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada (all within about 9 km of 80°N, 86°W). The area, extending from Eureka Sound to Remus Creek and from Slidre Fiord to Eastwind Lake, included shoreline, hills, lowlands, creek bottoms, and the west side of Blacktop Ridge. An associate, Layne Adams, and I spent 1-11 July 1998 in this area on all-terrain vehicles, following a pair of wolves Canis lupus (Mech, 1994). Adams and I also surveyed the surrounding area with binoculars for prey animals, in much the same manner that my assistants and I have practiced for one to six weeks each summer in the same area since 1986 (Mech, 1995, 1997). Because both muskoxen and arctic hares were common residents of the area during most years and were not the focus of our studies, no standardized counts were made. However, general field notes were sufficient to document that during most summers both species and their young were present.

Data on temperatures, precipitation, and snow cover for the study area, recorded at a weather station near sea level at Eureka, were obtained from Environment Canada (1998). Because most of the study area is considerably higher than the weather station, its temperature and snow conditions were more severe than records from the weather station indicate. For example, fresh snow often covered upland parts of the study area but not the shore area where the weather station was located.

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