Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 3–17

Environmental Stochasticity and Long-Term Livestock Viability—Herd-Accumulation as a Risk Reducing Strategy


DOI: 10.1007/s10745-009-9288-4

Cite this article as:
Næss, M.W. & Bårdsen, BJ. Hum Ecol (2010) 38: 3. doi:10.1007/s10745-009-9288-4


This study tests the hypothesis that herd accumulation can be a risk reducing strategy aimed at increasing security in an unpredictable environment. Saami reindeer husbandry in Norway is characterized by environmental unpredictability and occasionally harsh winters can have dramatic negative effects on reindeer population densities. While herd accumulation has been found to be an adaptive risk reducing strategy in stochastic environments (i.e., individually rational), the accumulation of large herds may also result in collectively negative density dependent effects, which may negatively affect individual herders (i.e., collectively irrational). We found that individual husbandry units’ strategies, such as accumulating reindeer, have a larger effect on individual husbandry units’ herd size than a negative density-dependent effect.


Nomadic pastoralismNegative externalitiesManagementTragedy of the commonsHerd maximizationRangifer tarandusNorway

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and Social AnthropologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)Arctic Ecology Department, Polar Environmental CentreTromsøNorway