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Summer distribution of semi-domesticated reindeer relative to a new wind-power plant

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Wind-power plants (WPs) within reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) habitat may have negative effects on reindeer habitat use. Avoidance effects towards a WP were tested by comparing reindeer distributions on a peninsula where a WP was built in 2006 with a control peninsula without a WP. Distributions were measured by direct observations during construction period, and in four subsequent years, and limited faecal pellet group counts along transects before, during and after the WP construction (2005–2010). We predicted higher reindeer density in the control than the WP peninsula and at increasing distances from the WP when controlling for habitat quality. We found no avoidance effects from the WP, with significantly more reindeer in the WP than the control peninsula. Faecal pellet group data supported a lack of negative effects towards the WP after construction compared to before, while area within 100 m from the access road to the WP was avoided during the construction period and for 3 years afterwards. Reindeer avoided low-quality habitat both in the control and WP peninsulas. Our study indicates that WP development might have minor effects on habitat use if built in poor habitats, at least for semi-domestic reindeer. Our results cannot be used to infer effects of a WP built in higher-quality habitats or where large-scale movements are less restrictive than on a peninsula. Disturbance effects of human infrastructure likely are context-dependent, and management should thus be careful in planning of WPs to minimize adverse effects.

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Financing was provided by the Norwegian Science Council, The Norwegian Water Resource and Energy Directorate, The Norwegian Reindeer Herding Management, Statkraft, Troms Kraft, Nordkraft Vind, Hydro, Statoil, Fred Olsen Renewable, Agder Energi, Statnett, Statskog and the Reindeer Husbandry Research Fund. We would like to thank the members of the Wind-Rein Project reference group for their valuable input over the course of the project. C. Pedersen, M. A. Gaup, N. M. A. Gaup, A. Mann, J. N. Dyrhaug, J. Holmen, O. T. Rannestad, M. Lilleeng, H. Rønning, B. A. Buvarp, I. Mikalsen, B. A. Mikalsen, E. Nilsen, C. Tröger, A. Kammerhofer and N. L. Colman provided excellent field assistance.

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Correspondence to Diress Tsegaye.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Summary of data for direct reindeer observations during (2006) and after (2007–2010) the WP construction in different habitats (i.e. low, medium and high) in the WP and control peninsulas. (DOC 77 kb)


Summary of data for the faecal pellet group surveys before (2005), during (2006) and after (2007–2010) the WP construction. (DOC 57 kb)


Selection of best models from alternative models using AIC selection criteria. The random effects (block for direct observations and transect for faecal pellet group surveys) as described in the “Methods” section were included when the models were run. The best models were bolded. All models related to reindeer observation were analysed using the negative binomial mixed model with glmmADMB package, while models related the faecal pellet group surveys were analysed using a generalized mixed model with lme4 package in R. (DOC 62 kb)

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Colman, J.E., Eftestøl, S., Tsegaye, D. et al. Summer distribution of semi-domesticated reindeer relative to a new wind-power plant. Eur J Wildl Res 59, 359–370 (2013).

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