Reindeer parasites, weather and warming of the Arctic

Research paper by Odd Halvorsen

Indexed on: 24 Jun '12Published on: 24 Jun '12Published in: Polar biology


The protostrongylid nematode Elaphostrongylus rangiferi parasitizes reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and may cause severe disease and death. A relationship between particularly warm summers and the occurrence of the parasite has been suggested. The hypotheses of a positive relationship between the abundance of the parasite and summer warmth were tested by yearly examination of the density of larvae of E. rangiferi in faeces of reindeer in northern Norway. In addition to summer temperature, summer precipitation and reindeer density were included. The abundance of the parasite increased with increasing summer temperature. It is predicted that warming of the Arctic will increase the abundance of E. rangiferi and cause more disease and death in reindeer.