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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Do landscape factors and seasonality modulate resource partitioning by the Arctic scavengers of Svalbard?

Tildelt: kr 55 999

This project is part of the REINCAR project (RiS ID 11512), which has an ongoing carrion ecology study in Svalbard. One of the REINCAR objectives is to investigate to what extent reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) cadavers affect soil biogeochemistry and vegetation locally and on the landscape scale. Preliminary results indicate that there is considerable variation in vegetation responses induced by cadavers. This may be caused by the environmental context in which individual cadavers decompose (e.g. sun exposure, slope steepness, soil moisture). In my study, I will use an experimental setup with camera trap data from 52 experimental sites to investigate if and to what extent the scavenger community of Svalbard is structured across the landscape and in time, and if a spatial ‘scavenger landscape’ can help to explain the observed variation in vegetation responses induced by reindeer cadavers. My objectives in this project is 1) what the scavenger community differs between winter and summer, and 2) how landscape variables affect the community of scavengers and decomposition rates of reindeer carrion. I am following up the one-year study by Nord University MSc student Erik Fagervik Gaden (AFG 2022, project number 333100), but will focus explicitly on the spatial and the temporal aspect of resource partitioning, and produce a spatial predictive map of cadaver community structure.


SSF-Svalbard Science Forum