Health and infectious diseases in semi-domesticated reindeer in a changing climate

Climate change will have an impact on ecosystems, including the presence and prevalence of infectious agents and diseases affecting reindeer and people, and northern societies in particular.

Thirty-five reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) were successfully transferred from Finnmark County, Norway to East Iceland in 1787. They now count more than 6 000 animals and are managed through defined management zones and hunting. The bulls may become very fat during early fall, preparing for the rut. Little is known about infectious diseases among Icelandic reindeer. Foto: Morten Tryland
This project is closely linked with the CLINF-project ("Climate-change effects on the epidemiology of infectious diseases and the impacts on Northern societies”, Nordic Centre of Excellence, 2016-2020), and is addressing pathogens and climate sensitive infections in semidomesticated reindeer (Norway) and wild reindeer (Iceland). 

Reindeer will be sampled (live or at slaughterhouse/hunt; 2017-2019) and investigated for climate sensitive infections and the presence of unknown viruses (metagenomics). We will also address traditional knowledge among reindeer herders regarding understanding, prevention and treatment of reindeer diseases, through interviews with the project participants. Data will be available for all the working packages in CLINF and thus compared with relevant investigations and results from Russia, Finland, Sweden and Greenland, and will also be linked to findings from a previous project (CARD).

The project results will thus be a part of a longterm monitoring, addressing fluctuations and trends along with a changing climate. The project is a cooperation between UiT, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Northern Research Institute (Norut), East Iceland Nature Research Centre, and reindeer herders (Norway) and hunters (Iceland).

Funding: FRAM Centre; Terrestrial flagship: Climate Effects on Terrestrial Ecosystems, Landscapes, Societies and Indigenous people. Project period: 2017-2019. Project leader: Morten Tryland.


Responsible: Morten Tryland