New Phd: State Management & Traditional Knowledge in Reindeer Husbandry Management

May 19, 2016 • Philip Burgess

Ellen Inga TuriSámi scholar Ellen Inga Turi is defending her Phd on Friday, May 20 in Umeå, Sweden. Her work is groundbreaking and touches on the field of management, reindeer husbandry and traditional ecological knowledge.

The PhD is entitled “State Steering and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Reindeer Herding Governance: Cases from western Finnmark, Norway and Yamal, Russia”. Her Faculty Opponent is Professor Dietrich Soyez from the Department of Geography at University of Cologne, Germany. The thesis is part of the research project IPY EALÁT which has been coordinated by the Sami University of Applied Sciences and UArctic Ealát Institute within the International Reindeer Centre Husbandry in Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu.

The area of investigation were in the Sami reindeer grazing area of West Finnmark in Norway and the Nenets reindeer grazing area in Yamal, Western Siberia, which are the largest reindeer herding areas in the world, both in terms of number of people and reindeer. In these areas there are certain similarities, but also major differences in terms such as political organization and management systems.

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Arctic Circle 2015 Wraps Up & Grows Ever Larger

October 19, 2015 • Philip Burgess

arctic-circle-conference-2015-logoIn a few short years the Arctic Circle assembly, held annually in Iceland’s capital has grown to become the largest Arctic related gathering, and is now attended by more than 1500 participants from close to 50 countries. The Assembly is held every October at the Harpa Conference Center and Conference Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland and has just wrapped up. In addition, the Arctic Circle organizes smaller forums on specific subjects, such as the 2015 forums in Alaska and Singapore, and the 2016 forums in Québec and Greenland. This year was no exception and even featured a keynote by President Hollande of France who noted the critical importance of action on climate change in advance of COP 21 in Paris, next month. Watch videos of the keynote presentations here and see photos here.

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Norway’s State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tore Hattrem was in attendance and  said Norway has stepped up its climate diplomacy over the last year and noted “Climate change affects everything. It can change food production globally, and in the end also affect security policy”

ICR Director Anders Oskal is on the Advisory Board of the Assembly and spoke at two sessions – one on Arctic Research and the other on Business and Cultural Development in the North where he was joined by Mikhail Pogodaev, who is currently the acting chair of the Northern Forum. In total ICR delivered 7 speeches and hosted 2 outbreak sessions in cooperation with the Northern Forum, IASSA, IASC, UArctic and business leaders.

The ICR/ WRH team are travelling onwards to the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials meeting, the first under the US chairmanship which gets underway in Anchorage tomorrow.



Effects of Reindeer Grazing on the Tundra Examined

December 17, 2014 • Philip Burgess

Maria Vaisanen Phd

Grazing by reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L.) affects vegetation and soil microbial processes in tundra ecosystems. It is considered that grazing can induce two alternative vegetation states that differ in plant species composition and the rate of nutrient cycling. The doctoral dissertation of Master of Science Maria Väisänen shows that the grazing history by reindeer, with the associated vegetation shift from dwarf shrubs to graminoids, can significantly alter the ecosystem-level consequences of climate warming.
The academic dissertation of researcher Maria Väisänen is a part of a research project funded by the Academy of Finland and led by Doctor Sari Stark. The project was working at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland from summer 2012 to summer 2014, as part of the Global Change research group, led by research professor Bruce Forbes.Master of Science Maria Väisänen’s dissertation “Ecosystem-level consequences of climate warming in tundra under differing grazing pressures by reindeer“ was examined on 18th December 2014 in the University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology. The opponent was Professor Philip Wookey from Heriot-Watt University, Great Britain.

Full manuscript can be downloaded here. (source Arctic Centre)

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Why Are Reindeer Eyes Golden In Summer But Blue In Winter? (National Geographic Blog)

October 31, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer Eyes

When Glen Jeffery first took possession of a huge bag full of reindeer eyes, he didn’t really want them.

Jeffery is a neuroscientist from University College London who studies animal vision, and his Norwegian colleagues had been urging him to study the eyes of reindeer. They wanted to know how these animals cope with three months of constant summer sunlight and three months of perpetual winter darkness. “I thought it was a dumb idea,” says Jeffery. The animals would probably adapt to the changing light through some neurological trick. The eyes weren’t the right place to look.

But the Norwegians persisted, and they eventually sent him a bag full of eyes, taken from animals killed by local Sami herders. The eyes were divided into two sets—one from animals killed in the summer, and another from those killed in the winter. “I opened the bag up and went: Jesus Christ!” says Jeffery. “Hang on. They’re a different colour”

In the summer, reindeer eyes are golden. In the winter, they become a deep, rich blue. “That was completely unexpected,” says Jeffery.

That was 13 years ago. Since then, he has been working to understand the secrets behind the chameleon-like eyes, along with Karl-Arne Stokkan from the University of Tromsø and others.

Continue below, or you can also read the full story here on the National Geographic Blog

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Reindeer See Deep Into the UV: Video

September 16, 2013 • Philip Burgess

A few years ago, interesting research came out of the UK and Norway that demonstrated how reindeers’ eye sight was unique among mammals, as they literally saw in UV light. Here is a short video describing what researchers discovered


Reindeer See in ‘UV’

May 27, 2011 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer see in UV
(Source BBC News) Arctic reindeer can see beyond the “visible” light spectrum into the ultra-violet region, according to new research by an international team.

They say tests on reindeer showed that the animal does respond to UV stimuli, unlike humans.

The ability might enable them to pick out food and predators in the “UV-rich” Arctic atmosphere, and to retain visibility in low light.

Details are published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology.

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Video and Photos from Yamal – Arctic Centre Finland Research

August 26, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Researchers at the Arctic Centre have been carrying out research on the Yamal Peninsula with Nenets reindeer herders for many years primarily under the theme of Global Change and Land use change. Videos and photos from this years field work on Yamal, led by Dr. Bruce Forbes can be see here.


Reindeer body clock switched off (BBC)

March 16, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer have no internal body clock, according to scientists.

Researchers found that the animals are missing a “circadian clock” that influences processes including the sleep-wake cycle and metabolism.

This enables them to better cope with the extreme Arctic seasons of polar day, when the sun stays up all day, and polar night, when it does not rise.

The team from the universities of Manchester and Tromso report their study in Current Biology journal.

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‘Final countdown for reindeer on Russian Tundra’ (Helsingin Sanomat)

January 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The english edition of the national Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat carried an article by Kirsikka Moring on the impact of the oil and gas industry on reindeer husbandry. The journalist attended the ENSINOR seminar in Rovaniemi, December 2007. You can read a more nuanced summary of that seminar on the Reindeer Portal.

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