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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Multivariate characterisation of environmental conditions for reindeer husbandry in Sweden

Lundqvist, H; Norell, L; Danell, O


Pastoralism using semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer t. tarandus) is a traditional livelihood in northern Fennoscandia. The area used for reindeer herding in Sweden covers as much as half of the country's area. Variation in the productivity of reindeer husbandry is clearly affected by many biotic and abiotic factors. The aim of this investigation was to identify factor combinations which describe the spatial variation in conditions that plausibly determine productivity in reindeer herding. Initially, 37 variables representing geographical location, climate, weather episodes related to ice crust formation and insect harassment, topography, vegetation, forage abundance and qualities, and fragmentation of the ranges were derived, using prior ecological knowledge and spatially explicit data. The variables were mapped in a raster of 1958 squares of 100 km(2) each, covering the entire reindeer herding area in Sweden. Reductions of variables were performed with multivariate analyses in steps, ultimately retaining 15 variables. The first five principal components of these variables explained 84% of the total variation. The first component, related to major western mountain/eastern lowland gradients, already accounts for 4996 of the variation. The following components explained variation ranging from 10% to 5.4%, and revealed spatial patterns in summer versus winter forage, climatic conditions and ice crust formation, abundance of forests and winter forage, and northward slopes together with valuable forest areas, respectively. A tentative zone division of the Swedish reindeer herding area into seven zones was made, based upon cluster analysis and spatial distribution of component scores. Extending this approach and method seems useful also in the understanding and management of other natural resources and national parks, especially with an ongoing global climate change perspective

Published in

2007, Volume: 27, number: 1, pages: 5-23
Publisher: Nordic Council for Reindeer Research (NOR)

    SLU Authors

        • Danell, Öje

          • Unit of Reindeer Husbandry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Animal and Dairy Science
        Veterinary Science

        Permanent link to this page (URI)