Accepted Paper:

Using Coprophilous Fungal Spores to Detect Abandoned Reindeer Milking Sites in Northern Sweden  


Mari Kuoppamaa (University of Lapland)
Bruce Forbes (University of Lapland)
Kjell-åke Aronsson (Ájtte Mountain and Sami Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Pollen and coprophilous fungal spore analysis are used as a tool to investigate the vegetation changes driven by the local presence of reindeer, and the timing and duration of the reindeer milking practiced by the indigenous Sami of the northern Fennoscandia.

Paper long abstract:

Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) is the single most dominant large herbivore affecting the vegetation of the northern Fennoscandia. It has been observed throughout the Arctic and especially in Fennoscandia and northern Russia that human impact, e.g. concentrated grazing and trampling by semi-domesticated reindeer herds have changed the vegetation by creating graminoid dominated green patches, which may persist over the centuries. However, the recent warming has driven vegetation changes in these areas by increasing the shrub growth and it remains to be seen if these lawns will persist further.

Two sites, Suollagavallda and Viejevágge, located in the Swedish Scandes Mountains were chosen for a high resolution pollen and coprophilous fungal spore analysis. Both sites are in mountain valleys with numerous ancient dwelling sites indicated by rows of hearths and circular depressions on the ground. Sami have traditionally practiced reindeer milking in the area during the summer months, and the animals have been kept on site for some weeks at the time, year after year repeatedly over several generations, which has had its effect on the vegetation. The aim of this study was to use the coprophilous fungal spores to detect the local presence of reindeer and the timing and duration of the reindeer milking in the area. The information from pollen and coprophilous fungal spores will also be used to plan for the geoarchaeological and geochemical survey in the Suollakavaldda site during the summer 2016.

Panel P31
Indigenous populations-vegetation-climate relationship in the past: what can this teach us about sustainable vegetation use in the present?