Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 541–559 | Cite as

Both reindeer management and several other land use factors explain the reduction in ground lichens (Cladonia spp.) in pastures grazed by semi-domesticated reindeer in Finland

  • Jouko Kumpula
  • Mika Kurkilahti
  • Timo Helle
  • Alfred Colpaert
Original Article


Roles of intensive reindeer grazing and several additional land use factors in the reduction in ground lichens (Cladonia spp.) in pastures grazed by the semi-domesticated reindeer have been argued in Finland. Our analysis showed that several factors and processes explain the standing biomass of lichens (during 2005–2008) and the recent changes in this biomass (after 1995–1996) on lichen pastures located in the 20 northernmost herding districts in Finland. The higher the long-term reindeer densities on the lichen pastures the lower was the lichen biomass. The lichen biomass was also strongly affected by the grazing system; the lowest biomass values of lichens were measured in all grazing areas that were used in the snow-free seasons. The lichen biomass in pine forests less than 80 years old and in all mountain type lichen pastures was lower than that in mature and old pine forests. The lichen biomass also decreased as the proportion of arboreal lichen pastures within a district decreased and the proportion of human infrastructure increased. The aerial drift of heavy metals from the Kola Peninsula appeared to reduce lichens in a small north-eastern part of the study area. Increases in summer precipitation and winter temperatures increased the amount of lichens, but increases in summer temperatures and winter precipitation had the opposite effect. Reindeer densities, grazing system, pasture type and the previous abiotic factors were also associated with the reduction in lichen biomass between the inventories. We conclude that several local, regional and even global factors and processes affect the state of reindeer pastures in large and complex grazing ecosystems. Therefore, more comprehensive research and management strategies for the entire reindeer herding environment are needed.


Environmental change Reindeer herding Grazing ecosystem Land use Fragmentation 



The reindeer pasture inventories the data of which provide the basis of this study were funded by the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture in Finland. We thank all of the people who helped conduct the pasture inventories and the data handling. Special thanks go to Ari Tanskanen of the University of Eastern Finland for developing the image classification system and to Heikki Törmänen, Jukka Siitari and Sari Siitari of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute for helping to collect and handle the pasture inventory data. We also thank Mari Pukkinen of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute for helping to handle the weather observations grid data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jouko Kumpula
    • 1
  • Mika Kurkilahti
    • 2
  • Timo Helle
    • 3
  • Alfred Colpaert
    • 4
  1. 1.Finnish Game and Fisheries Research InstituteKaamanenFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Game and Fisheries Research InstituteTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Forest Research InstituteRovaniemiFinland
  4. 4.University of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland

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