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Home* News and Stories → Rein­de­er sur­vey on Spits­ber­gen: local popu­la­ti­on kept gro­wing

Rein­de­er sur­vey on Spits­ber­gen: local popu­la­ti­on kept gro­wing

The Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te finis­hed its annu­al sur­vey of the local rein­de­er popu­la­ti­on in Advent­da­len and the results tur­ned out to be qui­te sur­pri­sing for the sci­en­tists: Again the num­ber of ani­mals incre­a­sed to a new all-time high.

In June sci­en­tists of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te count the rein­de­ers in Advent­da­len and the sur­roun­ding side val­leys. This year they coun­ted clo­se to 1500 indi­vi­du­als, almost 300 more than last year, which alrea­dy mar­ked an all-time high. Ano­t­her sur­vey, arran­ged by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Trom­sø, con­fir­med the­se results. Due to the last year´s rela­tively high num­ber of old indi­vi­du­als, an incre­a­se was not expec­ted this year. But the sci­en­tists coun­ted a sur­pri­sin­gly high num­ber of cal­ves, more than 300, and on the other hand the num­ber of dead bodies they found was low. Only 20 cada­vers were found, in bad years the­re were bet­ween 100 and 200.

The rea­son for the repeated incre­a­se in popu­la­ti­on can be seen in con­ve­ni­ent cli­ma­tic con­di­ti­ons, pro­vi­ding bet­ter gra­zing oppor­tu­nities to the ani­mals. High tem­pe­ra­tures in last year´s sum­mer did alrea­dy lead to exten­ded vege­ta­ti­on growth so that the rein­de­ers were well pre­pa­red for the cold sea­son. As then the last win­ter was rela­tively mild, food might have been easi­ly acces­si­ble. Nor­mal­ly mild win­ters with occa­sio­nal rain-peri­ods lead to icing and sealing of the ground, which makes gra­zing more dif­fi­cult. In the last win­ter the­re were rain-peri­ods but obvious­ly this nega­ti­ve effect was mis­sing. Par­ti­cu­lar­ly at the steep slo­pes of the val­leys the rain might have expo­sed the vege­ta­ti­on com­ple­te­ly.

Sin­ce the begin­ning of the rein­de­er sur­vey in Advent­da­len in 1979 the­re were always natu­ral varia­ti­ons regis­tered. An incre­a­se in popu­la­ti­on can lead to over­gra­zing in the next year, an effect that would be acce­le­ra­ted under unfa­vor­able cli­ma­tic con­di­ti­ons. After a strong popu­la­ti­on growth in the last two years the sci­en­tists the­re­fo­re expect a stron­ger decli­ne next win­ter.

Rein­de­ers in Advent­da­len

Rentier-News-07-2014-EN

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2014-07-17 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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