Life Histories

Animal Life History Research Programme

In the past five years there has been a sharp increase in studies of both the physiology of domestic animals and their genetics.  Much of these laboratory tests are done on samples, often taken from museums, where there is very little information on how that animal lived or where.  Standard research protocols document place (GPS co-ordinates) species, and sometimes type (domestic, wild). This research is primarily based on, and continues to be, in the Russian Federation.

It has become clear that standard biological classifications do not give enough information to make judgements about evolutionary behaviour, social behaviour, or the division of animals into groups (either phenotypic or haplotypic).   The goal of this programme was to gather as much information about the life of a specific animal as possible – as if that animal were a person – and to link that information to genetic and/or bone samples in specific examples (e.g. domestic reindeer and dog skeletons in Russian Federation, salmon and domestic reindeer in Fennoscandia, and dog skeletons in Canadian museums).

The domestic reindeer questionnaire has been developed on the basis of the questions that laboratory scientists ask of collections, and those recorded by herdsmen when describing their animals.  The questions are designed to elicit the difference between a specific animal and the surrounding herds of wild or tame animals.  It is not assumed that wild and tame animals are categorically different. 

The Russian Federation questionnaire is open-ended.  Please pay attention to local terms to describe animals – even if those terms may not find a translation in a scientific term.  Please avoid using scientific terms such as 'tundra reindeer', 'forest reindeer',  'wild reindeer' unless these are used by the person whom you are speaking with.

The questionnaire for ethnographic fieldwork focuses more on the interspecies and the role that dogs have played and continue to play in the Arctic. The questions are concerned with the life-histories from dogs and are primarily based on the stories of indigenous peoples.  

 White Bull - Nomama
"Knob-nosed" - Pereval


Castrated Male - Nomama