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Applications of resilience theory in management of a moose–hunter system in Alaska

Casey L Brown, Biology and Wildlife Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Resilience and Adaptation Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Kalin A Kellie, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fairbanks
Todd J Brinkman, Biology and Wildlife Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Resilience and Adaptation Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Eugénie S Euskirchen, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Resilience and Adaptation Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Knut Kielland, Biology and Wildlife Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Resilience and Adaptation Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07202-200116

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Abstract

We investigated wildfire-related effects on a slow ecological variable, i.e., forage production, and fast social-ecological variables, i.e., seasonal harvest rates, hunter access, and forage offtake, in a moose–hunter system in interior Alaska. In a 1994 burn, average forage production increased slightly (5%) between 2007 and 2013; however, the proportional removal across all sites declined significantly (10%). This suggests that moose are not utilizing the burn as much as they have in the past and that, as the burn has aged, the apparent habitat quality has declined. Areas with a greater proportion of accessible burned area supported both high numbers of hunters and harvested moose. Our results suggest that evaluating ecological variables in conjunction with social variables can provide managers with information to forecast management scenarios. We recommend that wildlife managers monitor fast variables frequently, e.g., annually, to adapt and keep their management responsive as resources fluctuate; whereas slower variables, which require less frequent monitoring, should be actively incorporated into long-term management strategies. Climate-driven increases in wildfire extent and severity and economically driven demographic changes are likely to increase both moose density and hunting pressure. However, the future resilience of this moose–hunter system will depend on integrated management of wildfire, hunter access, and harvest opportunities.

Key words

Alaska; moose; resilience; slow and fast variables; wildlife management

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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