Svalbard reindeer

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Svalbard reindeer
Svalbardrein pho.jpg
Svalbard reindeer
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Rangifer
R. t. platyrhynchus
Trinomial name
Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus
(Vrolik, 1829)

The Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) is a subspecies of the reindeer found on the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. They are the smallest subspecies of the reindeer. Males average 65–90 kg in weight, females 53–70 kg,[2] while for other reindeer generally body mass is 159–182 kg for males and 80–120 kg for females.[3]

The subspecies is endemic to the islands of Svalbard, where it has lived for at least 5,000 years, and has become well adapted to the harsh climate,[4][5] being found on nearly all non-glaciated areas of the archipelago. It is the northernmost living herbivore mammal in the world.[2][failed verification][dubious ] They are the only large grazing mammal in the European High Arctic, and this makes them exceptional for studies concerning the introduction of pollutants to changing ecosystems. The fur of Svalbard Reindeer contains elements and chemicals picked up from the vegetation they digest. They are relatively sedentary, and are thus highly vulnerable to changes in local conditions.[6]

They remain short-legged and have a relatively small, rounded head.[2] Their fur is also lighter in colour and thicker during winter. The thickness of the coat contributes to the short-legged appearance and makes even starved animals appear fat in the winter. The males develop large antlers during the period from April to July and shed the velvet during August–September. Males lose their antlers in early winter. Females develop antlers starting in June and they are usually retained for a whole year.[2]

A Svalbard reindeer running in winter
Female Svalbard reindeer with calves
Svalbard reindeer hunting exhibition at the Polar Museum in Tromsø, Norway


  1. ^ Gunn, A. (2016). "Rangifer tarandus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T29742A22167140. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d R. Aanes. "Svalbard reindeer". Norwegian Polar Institute. Archived from the original on 16 Feb 2018.
  3. ^ Caribou at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Retrieved on 16 September 2011.
  4. ^ Aasheim, Stein P. (2008). Norges nasjonalparker: Svalbard (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal. pp. 34–36. ISBN 978-82-05-37128-6.
  5. ^ Lauritzen, Per Roger, ed. (2009). "Svalbardrein, Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus Vrolik". Norsk Fjelleksikon (in Norwegian). Friluftsforlaget. ISBN 978-82-91-49547-7.
  6. ^ Pacyna, A., Koziorowska, K., Chmiel, S., Mazerski, J., & Polkowska, Z. (2018). Svalbard reindeer as an indicator of ecosystem changes in the Arctic terrestrial ecosystem. Chemosphere, 203, 209-218. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.03.158

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