Interim profile, incomplete information
Taxonomic name: Rangifer tarandus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common names: caribou (English), caribou (French), Eurasian reindeer (English), North American caribou (English), Norwegian reindeer (English), peary caribou (English), reindeer (English), renne (French), reno (Spanish)
Organism type: mammal
Introduced intentionally to the subantarctic islands of Kerguelen and South Georgia, populations of Rangifer tarandus (reindeer) have had a significant impact on native vegetation of the islands due to grazing and trampling.
Rangifer tarandus is a social deer, and can form regional herds of 50,000 to 500,000 animals which band together during spring, although these herds are generally comprised of single-sex subgroups of 10 to 1,000 individuals (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008). R. tarandus is highly nomadic and may travel 5,000km in a year. Population densities are generally very sparse, about 0.5 animals per square kilometre, however during their migration; this may reach numbers of over 19,000 animals per square kilometre (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008).
natural forests, tundra
Rnagifer tarandus are adapted to their cold environments by having a very thick coat and by having shirt tails. They can smell lichen and other foodstuffs under snow which is a special adaptation. Their major predators are bears and wolves (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008). R. tarandus’s primary habitat is Arctic and sub-Arctic tundra, open montane and woodland habitats, and is often on high mountain slopes and in alpine zones of 2,300 – 3,000 meters. R. tarandus typically feeds on lichens, mosses herbs, ferns, grasses, and shoots and leaves of deciduous shrubs and trees (especially Salix spp. (willow) and Betula spp. (birch) (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008).
Native range: The reindeer is distributed throughout a number of northern countries (Northern Asia, Europe, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland) (Nowak, 1999).
Known introduced range: The reindeer has been introduced in the subantartic islands of South Georgia and Kerguelen (Lesel, 1967).
Rangifer tarandus feeds on lichens, mosses herbs, ferns, grasses, and shoots and leaves of deciduous shrubs and trees (especially Salix spp. (willow) and Betula spp. (birch) (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008).
In Rangifer tarandus rutting takes place around October. Young are born around May and June, with the gestation period being about 228 days (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008). During the reproduction period, males lose twice as much body tissue as females, as more energy is put into the development of antlers than in pregnancy and lactation (Leader-Williams & Ricketts, 1982(a)).
Usually one or two Rangifer tarandus calves are born, which wean at about 6 months and reach maturity 2.5-3.5 years. Individuals can live up to 20 years (Hentonen & Tikhonov, 2008). From birth to one year of age, both sexes double their crown to tail length and achieve 80 - 90% of their final adult size. Also during this period, both sexes increase their weight seven-fold (Leader-Williams & Ricketts, 1982(a)). Conception can occur from around 1.5 years of age.
Compiled by: Interim profile: Comité français de l'UICN (IUCN French Committee) & IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Monday, 4 October 2010