Norway's reindeers thrive in climate change

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Reindeer in Norway Shutterstock
09:19 CEST+02:00
Floods. Rising temperatures. Natural disasters. You'll need more than good old-fashioned climate change to stop Norway's hardiest of animals, the arctic reindeer.

Researchers claim the adverse change in weather conditions is not threatening reindeer in northern Norway.

A study by scientists from The University of Manchester and the Norwegian Arctic University in Tromsø looked at reindeer herds in the region of Svalbard.

They found the rising temperatures are actually encouraging the populations to grow. The numbers of Svalbard reindeer have increased by 30 percent in the last year.

The reindeer boffins used rather basic science as they simply counted reindeer in the valley of Adventdalen, central Spitsbergen, and compared figures to last year's numbers. This research was part of a long term study of reindeer population in Svalbard.

The Svalbard research is one of only a very few studies on animal populations and climate change that involves animals being physically counted annually rather than estimated, claim The University of Manchester.

Dr Tyler, head of research at the Norwegian Arctic University, said: “Winter warming is widely held to be a major threat to reindeer across the arctic but, in the high arctic archipelago of Svalbard global warming has had the opposite effect. Our data provides remarkable confirmation of this counter intuitive observation.”

This summer a team from The University of Manchester helped with the annual census of reindeer in Adventdalen.

Dr Codd, programme director for zoology at Manchester University, said: “The results revealed a remarkably successful year for Svalbard reindeer. Despite very high numbers in 2013, the population increased by almost 30 percent and reached a new record of just over 1300 animals, more than three times the population size in 1979 when the present series of counts began.”

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