Material from harvested Svalbard reindeer: evaluation of the material, the data and their areas of application for research and management
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This report evaluates biological material from reindeer harvested in Svalbard and discusses application areas for research and management. A collection of lower jaws located at the University of Oslo (UiO) covers most of the period 1984–2009. Some material is, however, currently missing from the collection. The available samples have been analysed for jaw length and age (based on tooth set and counts of cementum annuli) by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). A subset of the material has also been analysed previously (by different personnel) for molar height and dressed weight. The hunting material has broad applicability for research and management and represents an important resource for studying jaw lengths (i.e. body growth) in relation to climate, population density, hunting area, and sex and age structure of the harvested population. Based on preliminary analyses, there is clear variation between subpopulations and also clear climate signals in body growth. Though limited by a smaller sample size, similar information can be obtained from molar heights (e.g. tooth wear variation with sex, age, and climate) and dressed weights. Furthermore, the hunting statistics reflect spatiotemporal variation in sex-age distribution (of harvested animals) that could be of great interest for the management of this species on Svalbard. A standardised procedure for collection and handling of the material, including continuous sample analysis, is highly recommended.