Summer distribution of wild reindeer in relation to human activity and insect stress
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- Vistnes, I.I., Nellemann, C., Jordhøy, P. et al. Polar Biol (2008) 31: 1307. doi:10.1007/s00300-008-0468-2
We examined the summer distribution of 2,500 wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in southern Norway by eight aerial surveys across 8 years. Most of the reindeer were located at high elevations >1,400 m.a.s.l. (88% of the reindeer in 47% of the area) where insect stress was lower. Within high elevations, reindeer used areas <5.0 km from tourist resorts and major roads and <2.5 km from hiking trails less than expected from availability. A total of 65% of the reindeer were found in high-altitude areas without human development or only including closed maintenance roads, which constituted 21% of the area, likely because these areas gave shelter from both insect stress and human activity. We conclude that wild reindeer appear to select for insect relief areas reaching several kilometers away from human activity if such habitat is available. Infrastructure with associated human activity was found to be avoided in all surveys.