Publication details

Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) antler characteristics reflecting the local environmental conditions



Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Folia Oecologica
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Web Full Text
Keywords antlers; environmental conditions; population characteristics; Svalbard reindeer
Description A new non-invasive method based on picture analysis was used to estimate the conditions in Svalbard reindeer populations. The well-being of an individual subject is often expressed through visual indices. Two distinct reindeer populations were compared based on their antler parameters. Relative antler size and number of tines are variables supposed to reflect correspondingly the environmental conditions of sedentary populations within the growing season. The occurrence areas of two studied populations are distinctly isolated – separated with high mountain ridges, glaciers and fjords. The population in Petuniabukta occupies a sparsely vegetated region with harsh climatic conditions, whereas Skansbukta represents an area with continuous tundra vegetation cover, milder climatic conditions and, consequently, also a longer vegetation season. These environmental factors probably caused significant differences in the relative antler size and number of tines in the studied species. The Skansbukta population exhibited a larger relative antler size and higher number of tines than the population in Petuniabukta (both parameters differed significantly, p < 0.01). This difference reflects concisely the different environmental conditions of both locations. A comparison of Skansbukta population antler characteristics between years 2017 and 2018 did not reveal significant changes, most probably due to very similar atmospheric conditions in these two years (in terms of air temperature).
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