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Conference abstract, 2010

Using pellet-group counts to detect change in reindeer spatial distribution in relation to human development

Skarin, Anna; Rönnegård, Lars


Wind power is a promising source of alternative renewable energy, but there is concern about adverse effects on key species in both the boreal forest and mountain areas. Ecological information is needed in assessing the impacts and conflicts of proposed wind turbines. Proper planning is critical to avoid and minimize negative habitat impacts. To detect if semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus), are affected by these infrastructural changes, spatial distribution of reindeer faecal pellet groups will be analysed before, during, and after wind power development. In this presentation I will show preliminary results from two consecutive years (2009 and 2010) before wind power development in Malå reindeer herding community in northern Sweden (N 65°13', E 18°54'). In this forest area two wind-power parks (8 and 10 power plants) are built within 5 km distance from each other. Reindeer resource selection at population level was estimated at both the local and regional scale (within 2 and 20 km respectively, from the planned parks). Linear regressions of density of the pellet groups on habitat variables were evaluated, with the purpose of using them to predict the density of the reindeer habitat use within the whole study area and in other similar areas. The habitat variables used were vegetation type, forest age, altitude, terrain ruggedness, slope, aspect, and distance to roads and power plants (after they are built) or other infrastructure such as power lines and mines. Preliminary results suggest the use of different regression models depending on the spatial autocorrelation in the data set. In one of the study areas at the local scale I found spatial autocorrelation in the data suggesting that kriging interpolation of the pellet group density might be performed. In the other area at the local scale the spatial autocorrelation was very weak suggesting that we can perform a prediction using only the habitat variables. The preliminary results also shows that the pellet density increase with altitude at both local and regional scale, and also in proximity to roads at the local scale, while at the regional scale the density decreases in proximity to roads. This confirms the importance of regional scale perspective when studying avoidance behaviour of animals in relation to human constructions and infrastructure

Published in

Rangifer. Report
2010, number: 14, pages: 43-43
Publisher: Nordiskt organ för rennäringsforskning


16th Nordic Conference on Reindeer and Reindeer Husbandry Research