Polar Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 10, pp 675–678 | Cite as

Predation of Svalbard reindeer by polar bears

  • Andrew E. Derocher
  • Øystein Wiig
  • Georg Bangjord


Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are believed to be obligate predators on marine mammals, and particularly, on two species of seals. This paper reports on observations of polar bears preying (n=7) and scavenging (n=6) on Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhyncus). Similar to their closest evolutionary ancestor, the brown bear (U. arctos), polar bears are opportunistic and will prey on ungulates. Reindeer are likely of minor importance to the foraging ecology of polar bears in Svalbard, but the observations suggest behavioural plasticity in response to a novel prey item.


Prey Item Marine Mammal Minor Importance Polar Bear Brown Bear 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew E. Derocher
    • 1
  • Øystein Wiig
    • 2
  • Georg Bangjord
    • 3
  1. 1.Norwegian Polar Institute, 9296, Tromsø, Norway e-mail: Tel.: +47-7775-0524, Fax: +47-7775-0501NO
  2. 2.Zoological Museum, University of Oslo, Sars gate 1, 0562, Oslo, NorwayNO
  3. 3.Odden, 7057, Jonsvatnet, NorwayNO

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