Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

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Vol. 11, No. 4, 1979

pp. 457-466

Comparison of the Digestive Tract in Svalbard and Norwegian Reindeer

Hans Staaland, Endre Jacobsen, Robert G. White

The digestive organs were examined in 18 Svalbard reindeer and 17 domestic reindeer from northern Norway. The main difference found was that the Svalbard reindeer had a relatively larger cecum/colon complex compared to the whole digestive system and to the body weight than the Norwegian animals. It was also found that in Svalbard reindeer this system relative to the whole digestive system was larger in animals during winter than in animals shot in summer. No such seasonal variation was noted in Norwegian reindeer. The findings are discussed in relation to the ecology of the Svalbard reindeer. It is suggested that the development of a large cecum/colon complex in Svalbard reindeer could allow for enhanced absorption of water, ions, and products of cecal fermentation when reindeer consume foods of extremely low digestibility such as mosses.

Citation Note: This article was published when our journal had an earlier shorter name: "Arctic and Alpine Research."