The introduction of reindeer to Brøggerhalvøya, Svalbard: grazing preference and effect on vegetation
Keywords:Svalbard, reindeer, grazing effect, habitat preference, overgrazing
AbstractIn 1978 after about 100 years of absence, 15 Svalbard reindeer, Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus were reintroduced to Brøggerhalvøya, a peninsula on the north-western coast of Svalbard. This stock had increased to about 200 animals in 1989. Studies of reindeer grazing behaviour were carried out in 1979-1980 and 1988¬1989. Highly prefered lichen species such as Cetraria nivalis had almost completely disappeared by 1989, whereas a less prefered species, Cetraria delisei, was still abundant. Year round dietary intake of grasses, lichens and herbs e.g. Oxyria digyna, had decreased by 1989, whereas that of mosses had increased. Essentially reindeer showed a more opportunistic grazing behaviour with more balanced utilization of all types of plant associations in 1989. The grazing behaviour of the reindeer on Brøggerhalvøya is therefore similar to that observed for Svalbard reindeer in general.
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