Mammal Research

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 111–120 | Cite as

Dental microwear textural analyses to track feeding ecology of reindeer: a comparison of two contrasting populations in Norway

  • Olivier Bignon-lauEmail author
  • Natacha Catz
  • Emilie Berlioz
  • Vebjørn Veiberg
  • Olav Strand
  • Gildas Merceron
Original Paper


Using dental microwear textural analysis, we aim to explore variations in feeding habits within and between wild reindeer populations (Rangifer tarandus) in Norway. Specimens from the two wild reindeer areas of Knutshø and Hardangervidda were hunted between late August and the end of September 2014, and found to share very similar topological and ecological characteristics (continental alpine tundra). Despite the homogenisation of plant resources at the end of the snow-free period, dental microwear textural analysis on cheek teeth indicates differences in feeding behaviors between the two populations, in that reindeer from Knutshø might display a more “grazing” signal than the ones from Hardangervidda. Such differences in dental microwear textures reflect the differences in feeding habits that could be linked with differences in population density of reindeer. The Knutshø reindeer density is lower than at Hardangervidda, where primary food resources like grasses, sedges, and lichens are less abundant. Analyses also show the differences in gender for the population of Knutshø, but more studies are necessary for the clearest interpretation of data. Our results emphasize the need to explore local variations at a monthly time frame in order to better assess the versatility of dental microwear textures before applying this kind of analysis to either extant or extinct multi-population scales.


Dental microwear textural analyses Diet Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) Norway 



We would like to thank the ArScAn-UMR 7041 CNRS, Equipe Ethnologie préhistorique and WP 1.3 of the LabEx DynamiTe for their financial support. This study was financed by the Project ANR TRIDENT (ANR-13-JSV7-0008-01, PI: G. Merceron). We are very grateful to Anusha Ramdarshan for her help in data processing.


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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivier Bignon-lau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Natacha Catz
    • 1
  • Emilie Berlioz
    • 2
  • Vebjørn Veiberg
    • 3
  • Olav Strand
    • 3
  • Gildas Merceron
    • 2
  1. 1.ArScAn UMR 7041Equipe Ethnologie préhistorique-Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance
  2. 2.iPHEP UMR 7262 (CNRS & Université de Poitiers)PoitiersFrance
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway

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