Wild Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) and Mountain Hiking : a study of human activity and potential reindeer avoidance in Setesdal-Ryfylke.
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- Master's theses (INA) 
The studied effects of human activities on wildlife provide necessary knowledge for management authorities to better understand and predict the consequences of increased wildlife habitat fragmentation. Human outdoor activities can negatively influence wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) populations through reoccurring disturbances. Previous studies indicate that frequently used hiking trails lead to reindeer avoidance or other behavioural changes. I conducted a study on the possible avoidance of wild reindeer in relation to a hiking trail in Setesdal-Ryfylke, Southern Norway, during July 2014. The reindeer area use was estimated by a faecal pellet count method and registration of habitat variables, including vegetation distribution and elevation. Faecal counts were done by a strip- transect method where all transects had a length of 2 km. Eight transects were located in proximity to the trail (<2 km) and additional eight transects were randomly distributed in the terrain (>2 km) to obtain a random density of pellets for the entire study area. Significant lower faeces density per km2 was found for areas in proximity to the trail (<2 km) compared to areas beyond 2 km, indicating avoidance by reindeer. Additionally, a significant difference in faeces density was shown among vegetation types, but the vegetation distribution pattern did not explain the increased faeces density in areas beyond 2 km from the hiking trail. Furthermore, elevation was correlated to the location of the trail in the terrain and increased with increasing distance to the trail. Thus, it was not possible to conclude whether the observed faecal pattern in relation to the hiking trail reflects natural conditions (in elevation) or if it is caused by reindeer avoidance as predicted.