Do human activity and infrastructure disturb domesticated reindeer? The need for the reindeer’s perspective

Journal Article

Title: Do human activity and infrastructure disturb domesticated reindeer? The need for the reindeer’s perspective
Publication Date:
July 01, 2014
Journal: Polar Biology
Volume: 37
Issue: 7
Pages: 1041–1054
Publisher: Springer
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Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
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Citation

Skarin, A.; Åhman, B. (2014). Do human activity and infrastructure disturb domesticated reindeer? The need for the reindeer’s perspective. Polar Biology, 37(7), 1041–1054.
Abstract: 

In recent decades, human–Rangifer (reindeer and caribou) interactions have increasingly been studied from a scientific perspective. Many of the studies have examined Norwegian wild  reindeer or caribou in North America. It is often questioned whether results from these studies can be applied to reindeer in managed herds, as these animals have been exposed to domestication and are also more used to humans. In order to examine the domesticated reindeer’s reactions to various disturbance sources, we reviewed 18 studies of the effects of human activity and infrastructure on 12 populations of domesti-cated reindeer and compared these to studies on wild reindeer and caribou; based on this, we discuss the effects of domestication and tameness on reindeer responses to anthropogenic disturbance. We also consider the relevance of spatial and temporal scales and data collection methods when evaluating the results of these studies. The reviewed studies showed that domesticated reindeer exhibit avoid-ance behaviours up to 12 km away from infrastructure and sites of human activity and that the area they avoid may shift between seasons and years. Despite a long domesti-cation process, reindeer within Sami reindeer-herding systems exhibit similar patterns of large-scale avoidance of anthropogenic disturbance as wild Rangifer, although the strength of their response may sometimes differ. This is not surprising since current Sami reindeer husbandry repre-sents an extensive form of pastoralism, and the reindeer are not particularly tame. To obtain a true picture of how reindeer use their ranges, it is of fundamental importance to study the response pattern at a spatial and temporal scale that is relevant to the reindeer, whether domesticated or wild.

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