VIGILANCE BEHAVIOUR IN WILD AND SEMI-DOMESTIC REINDEER IN NORWAY
We recorded a vigilance behavior of wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) population in Rondane North and a population of semi-domesticated origin in Norefjell-Reinsjøfjell during 3 periods (April-May, June-July, and August) in 1997 in southern Norway. The 2 areas studied have different histories of hunting, domestication, predation, and human activity. A vigilance bout was defined as the act of interrupting feeding by lifting the head above the shoulders and briefly observing the surrounding area for < 10 seconds before returning to feeding. The Rondane North population of reindeer displayed a higher rate of vigilance during all periods compared with the Norefjell-Reinsjøfjell population (P<0.0001). The Norefjell-Reinsjøfjell reindeer devoted more time to predator-vulnerable activities such as lying head down and lying head flat, than the population inhabiting Rondane North. Higher rates of vigilance behavior displayed by the Rondane reindeer most likely are related to differential elimination of animals during the evolutionary history of domestication, and by hunting in the 2 areas. Habituation of humans and the presence or absence of large mammalian predators may also contribute to the observed differences in vigilance behavior.
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