• Ecological development of a management plan for reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) on St. George Island, Alaska

      St. Martin, Michelle L. (2012-12)
      Management of an herbivore production system requires a working knowledge of the components and processes of the targeted grazing system. Land owners and stakeholders wish to develop a management plan for reindeer on St. George Island, Alaska. The foci of this study were to determine seasonal diet composition (including forage preference); evaluate nutritional content of Angelica lucid, a potential alternative winter forage; estimate lichen biomass; and estimate reindeer abundance, annual production, and sustainable stocking density. Lichens were the preferred reindeer forage throughout the year, however significant seasonal dietary shifts occurred across the seasons. Fortis and grasses were consumed in significantly greater proportion in spring and summer diets, sedges greater in the fall diets, and mosses greater in the winter diets. Angelica lucida was found in reindeer diets throughout the year. The nutritional profile and available biomass suggest this species may serve as an important forage for growth and maintenance of the reindeer. Both the reindeer population and calf:cow ratio increased from 2007 (290 individuals; 48:100 ratio) to 2008 (320 individuals; 57:100 ratio). The estimated total lichen biomass for the island was ~ 5.4 million kg dry matter which could support a population of 217 reindeer or 2.4 reindeer/ km².