Reindeer – Journal of Zoology Weblog

As we at the moment are within the northern hemisphere winter and the festive season, we throw the highlight on Reindeer, resident of the North Pole, and a zoological image of recent Christmas. Reindeer or caribou (Rangifer tarandus) have featured all through the lengthy historical past of the journal, being talked about in passing within the first quantity of Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1830, Vol 1: 79–88). Thereafter, a number of options of their biology have fascinated zoologists.

Early work targeting descriptions of the totally different sub-species of reindeer, together with an outline of the Higher Macmillan Basin sub-species, which identified that the “standing of those distinctive and good-looking reindeer has been the topic of a lot confusion and reiterated error” (Barclay, 1935), not not like the descriptions of reindeer at Christmas with purple noses! Different points of anatomy have lengthy held curiosity. For instance, Tyler (1987) confirmed that reindeer may be reliably sexed from the sexual dimorphism in pelvic bones, since postmortem sexing is difficult by the weird presence of antlers in each men and women. Antler presence is just loosely associated to social rank in females, suggesting a task of intersexual moderately than intrasexual competitors (Holand et al., 2004). Equally, giant physique measurement moderately than antler measurement is essential for male-male competitors, with giant males monopolizing entry to feminine teams (Mysterud et al., 2003).

Within the Arctic atmosphere tundra vegetation varies in abundance and digestibility, presenting digestion challenges to reindeer (Sørmo et al., 1999). Though the oral anatomy of Arctic herbivores reveals diversifications to this atmosphere, reindeer (and muskoxen) are unable to keep away from ingesting quantities of low-quality forage, explaining their modified digestive perform (Mathiesen et al., 2000). Seasonal variation within the atmosphere additionally results in giant seasonal motion of reindeer, finest proven with developments in radio-collaring which permit distant monitoring (Ferguson & Elkie, 2004). The local weather additionally has marked impacts on life-history variation in reindeer (Reimers et al., 2005). Different challenges within the atmosphere are interspecific – predation by Arctic predators reminiscent of wolves can restrict reindeer inhabitants development (Kojola et al., 2004), and interactions with bugs can cut back reindeer efficiency, an affect that’s predicted to extend with local weather change (Weladji et al., 2003). A examine describing a chic elimination experiment confirmed that warble flies had a unfavorable affect on reindeer physique mass and sure a flow-on impact on life historical past and inhabitants dynamics (Ballesteros et al., 2012).

One other fascinating side of reindeer biology is their lengthy affiliation with Arctic peoples and their lengthy historical past of semi-domestication. Their reproductive physiology has due to this fact been comparatively effectively studied (e.g., Dott & Utsi, 1973), and such analysis consists of results of land administration on reindeer and their pastures (Colman et al., 2009). Maybe this lengthy historical past of co-habitation with folks is why they’re used for transport by that different North Pole dweller too!

Hopefully, this Journal of Zoology ‘Species within the Highlight’ digital concern will present extra background for the festive season on the great reindeer, in case any of you spy Rudolf and the others out your window within the coming weeks!

Prof. Elissa Cameron

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Zoology


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *