Optimal strategies in a changing world

Reindeer are affected by a combination of human harvest and natural stressors like predation and access to forage. In this WP we try to link reindeer life histories and herd productivity to climate, harvest, supplementary feeding and predation.

Optimal strategies in a changing world

High reindeer abundance results in animals of smaller that are more vulnerable to unfavourable climatic events. Predators typically target small or young individuals, while human slaughter strategies tend to vary . The evolutionary impacts of predation and harvest might therefore differ. Even though human-induced harvest release populations from density dependence, the viability of populations will depend on climatic conditions and the extent in which harvest typically targets large or small individuals. Selection of smaller individuals is, for example, expected to positively affect the reindeer’s ability to buffer negative climatic events. Consequently, reindeer population dynamics are formed by interactions between the animals’ reproductive strategies, human harvest strategies and climatic conditions.

Veieboks i Finnmark

Reindeer population dynamics are formed by interactions between the animals’ reproductive strategies, human harvest strategies and climatic conditions

Bård-Jørgen Bårdsen

Risk strategies
Supplementary feeding may mitigate other stressors such as inadequate access to forage due to high population density or climatic conditions. Within the Fennoscandian reindeer husbandry there exists large contrasts in the extent in supplementary feeding is applied and this is believed to affect productivity. It has been reported that short-term improved winter conditions do lead to increased female reproductive allocation, whereas winter long-term supplementary feeding results high reproductive allocating. Such environmental buffering have lead to the conclusion that reindeer have adopted a risk averse reproductive strategy where the females tend to prioritize enough resources for themselves to secure own survival at the expense of reproduction.   

Objectives - To assess how human strategies, like supplementary feeding and selective harvest, might either mitigate or aggravate climate impacts by assessing how:

  • social and ecological factors interact and together with climate shape reindeer life histories and pastoral harvesting strategies
  • selective harvest and natural predation might mitigate or exaggerate potential climatic effects
  • supplementary feeding affects the productivity and development of reindeer numbers under different climatic scenarios
Published 20. October 2016 - 14:49 - Updated 10. March 2017 - 9:02