In Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems, the winter represents a bottleneck for survival for many species including reindeer – a domestic animal of importance for more than 20 different people in Northern Eurasia. Previous studies have documented that herd accumulation is a risk sensitive herding strategy for Saami reindeer herders when faced with an unpredictable environment where harsh winters may take a heavy toll on the herds. A source of complexity in the understanding of the population dynamics of reindeer is a negative interaction between climate and population density: harsh environmental conditions, e.g. heavy snowfall and severe icing during late winter, have increasingly more negative effects at increasing levels of population density. Understanding the biology in this is complex enough, but adding social factors makes this increasingly more complex. Herd accumulation has previously been found to be individually rational, but it represents a social dilemma as these actions may be collectively irrational. The consequence of increasing herd size as a way to manage environmental risk is beyond doubt beneficial for a given herder, but if adopted by all herders such a risk sensitive herding strategy will increases the climatic vulnerability of the entire system due to the negative climate-density interaction. A previous study used data from 1998-2004 from a selection of ten pairs of reindeer districts in Finnmark. The proposed project aims to expand on this by using official statistics from 2000-2017 from the entire country in order to assess if the degree of risk sensitivity among herders shows any regional differences.
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