Do seasonal changes in Svalbard reindeer fur have relevance for heat transfer?
Keywords:Svalbard reindeer, heat transfer, conductance, physical characteristics, Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus, wind resistance
AbstractPhysical characteristics of Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) fur samples were examined with respect to season. A total of 33 dorsal fur sections including adults and calves were investigated. A direct relationship between hair density and heat transfer was not observed, and optimal hair density may depend on an interaction with other fur characteristics. Seasonal changes in fur length and depth were inversely proportional to, and appear to be the main determinants of, seasonal changes in calm air conductance. Fur length and depth, however did not explain the exceptional wind resistance of Svalbard reindeer fur. Since wind has little effect on heat transfer through Svalbard reindeer fur regardless of season or animal age, fur characteristics, which change are not likely critical. Instead, constant physical characteristics, which trap still-air within the fur and resist wind compaction and penetration, are probably responsible. These could include hair stiffness, the crimped wave, hollow hairs, intertwining distal tips and the fine wool fuzz about the hair roots. The extent and means are not well understood at present.
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