Research database

Project information
Project title
Reindeer health
Project leader
Morten Tryland, UiT – Arctic University of Norway, AMB
Geographical localization of the research project in decimal degrees (max 5 per project, ex. 70,662°N and 23,707°E)
Røros 62.574675 N, 11.3841944 E; Hattfjlelldal 65.5973611 N, 13.9879056 E; Iceland 65.0893725N, -15.961394 E

UiT – Arctic University of Norway, AMB:

Javier Sanchez Romano (PhD student) and Emily Magnuson (University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Master student)

Norwegian Veterinary Institute: Tromsø: Torill Mørk (Researcher) and Ingebjørg H. Nymo (Researcher).

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tromsø (NINA): Hans Tømmervik (Sen. Res.)

Northern Research Institute (Norut), Tromsø: Jan Åge Riseth (Researcher)

East Iceland Nature Research Centre (Egilsstadir, Iceland): Kristin Áugústdóttir

(Researcher), Rán Þórarinsdóttir (Researcher), Skarphéðinn G. Þórisson (Researcher)

Selected reindeer herders and pasture regions (NO):

Stig Rune Smuk, Tana (Rákkonjárga), Torstein Appfjell, Hattfjelldal (Jillen-Njaarke) and Inge Danielsen (Riast/Hylling).

Funding Source

The main funding body is FRAM. The Swedish project, CLINF (se below), has allocated money to support field work and sampling of semi-domesticated reindeer in Norway and wild reindeer in Iceland. In addition, all the institutions involved has contributed with considerable resources regarding field and lab facilities, equipment and working hours, which is not directly visible in the budget.

Summary of Results

Field work and sampling 2018:

Two of the Norwegian reindeer herds (Røros and Hattfjelldal) were sampled (UiT, Veterinary Institute) in January and April 2018, respectively; 20 animals from each herd. Hunted reindeer were sampled (UiT, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, East Iceland Nature Research Centre) in Iceland during the period August 24th – September 16th, with samples from 15 calves (special quota granted for this project) and 99 adult reindeer, with appr. 65 % females/35 % males.   


Summary of laboratory results:

Parasite studies: Samples from feces (2017 and 2018). Analyses with the McMaster technique (counting of eggs) have been conducted on 111 samples, whereas the Baermann technique has been conducted on 30 samples. The aim is to identify and quantify parasites and compare with previous screenings. This is a master student project, and the work is being conducted at Veterinary Institute. remaining feces samples and the abomasum samples will be analyzed during winter 2018-2019.

Pasteurella: Tonsils from 2017 (n=36) have been investigated for the presence of Pasteurella bacteria (cultivation) – no Pasteurella isolated. Sub-samples have been taken for PCR. The same procedures are now being conducted for the 2018 samples. A novel PCR is being designed in an attempt to detect Pasteurella-specific DNA in tonsils (i.e. more sensitive test than cultivation).

Viruses: Samples from semi-domesticated reindeer in Norway (2017 and 2018) have been investigated for several virus infections, with the following prevalence: Alphaherpesvirus CvHV2 (48 %), Gammaherpesvirus (8 %) and Pestivirus (32 %). Analyses for Bluetongue and Schmallenbergvirus were negative. Investigations of the 2017 wild reindeer samples from Iceland were negative (same panel as above), with the exception of two seropositive reindeer for Pestivirus. The same analyses will be conducted for the 2018 samples from Iceland.

Master and PhD-students involved in the project

PhD student Javier Sanchez Romano (spain) is attached to this project. He is working specifically on infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC), a transmissible eye infection among semi-domesticated reindeer. After his stay (June - Dec. 2017) at UC Davis, California (with John Angelos), to characterize bacterial isolates form diseased reindeer, he has been working in Tromsø (2018). He has participated in field work (Norway and Iceland) and have conducted laboratory analyses of reindeer samples. Javier submitted his PhD thesis in October (to be defended in January 2019).


Master student Emily Magnusson (University of Fairbanks, Alaska) is involved in a smaller part of Javier`s PhD project, evaluating antiviral treatment against IKC. She has also been participating in the field work for the FRAM project. Emily submitted her master thesis in November 2018. Effect of Antiviral Drugs against Cervid Herpesvirus 2 (CvHV2) in vitro.


Master student Selengemurun Dembereldagva (Mongolia) is conducting the parasite studies on Icelandic reindeer with Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Tromsø. Parasites in Icelandic reindeer (2018-2019).


Bachelor student Christine Nordtun participated during the Iceland field work (3 weeks) and has conducted a serological screening for pestivirus. She will deliver her thesis in December 2018. Forekomst av virusinfeksjoner hos rein på Island (2018-2019).


Published Results/Planned Publications

Riseth, J. Å., Tømmervik, H., and Forbes, B. 2018. Sustainable and resilient reindeer herding. In: Tryland M, Kutz SJ (Eds.), Reindeer and Caribou – Health and Disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp.


Tryland, M., Ravolainen, V., and Pedersen, Å. Ø. 2018. Climate change - potential impacts on pasture resources, health and diseases of reindeer and caribou. In: Tryland M, Kutz SJ (Eds.), Reindeer and Caribou – Health and Disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 493-514.


Tryland M, Das Neves CG, Klein J, Mørk T, Hautaniemi M, Wensman J. 2018. Viral infections and diseases. In: Tryland M, Kutz SJ (Eds.), Reindeer and Caribou – Health and Disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 273-303.


Tryland M, Soveri T. 2018. Haematology and blood biochemistry reference values for Rangifer. In: Tryland M, Kutz SJ (Eds.), Reindeer and Caribou – Health and Disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 445-454.


Scientific articles:

Sánchez Romano J, Mørk T, Laaksonen S, Ågren E, Nymo IH, Sunde M, Tryland M. 2018. Infectious keratoconjunctivitis in semi-domesticated Eurasian tundra reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus): microbiological study of clinically affected and unaffected animals with special reference to cervid herpesvirus 2. BMC Vet Res. 14(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s12917-018-1338-y.


Skre, Oddvar, Stein Rune Karlsen, Jan Åge Riseth and Frans E. Wielgolaski (2018). Consequences of Future Expansion at The Arctic Treeline in Northernmost Norway. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology B 8(3) DOI: 10.17265/2161-6264/2018.03.006




Riseth, J.Å. & Tømmervik, H. 2017.  Klimautfordringer og arealforvalting for reindrifta i Norge. Kunnskapsstatus og forslag til tiltak – eksempler fra Troms.. Tromsø: Norut Rapport 6/2017, (ISBN 978-82-7492-352-2) 62 s.


Kjørstad, M.A. Bøthun, S., Gundersen, V., Holand, Ø., Madslien, K.,  Mysterud, A.,  Nerhoel, I., Punsvik, T., Røed, K., Strand, O.,  Tveraa, T.,  Tømmervik, H.,  Ytrehus, B.,  Veiberg, V. 2017. Miljøkvalitetsnorm for villrein. Forslag fra en ekspertgruppe. Trondheim: Norsk instituttt for naturforskning 2017 (ISBN 978-82-426-3131-2) 193 s. NINA rapport (1400).

Manuscripts under preparation:

Riseth, Jan Åge, Hans Tømmervik (in progress). “May Traditional Reindeer Herding Knowledge help in counteracting climate sensitive infections (CSIs)?”


Tømmervik, Hans, Jan Åge Riseth, Morten Tryland (in progress). “Sámi reindeer utilization forms and adaptation between disease outbreaks and climate change. A historical analysis”


Risvoll, Camilla, Grete Haavelsrud, Tømmervik, Hans, Riseth, Jan Åge (in progress). “Multiple stressors meeting traditional knowledge: Current barriers in reindeer herding adaptations”.


Communicated Results

Tryland M. Health aspects of supplementary feeding. Workshop on supplementary feeding (NORDFORSK-Centre of Excellence), Kiruna, Sweden, February 22-23, 2018.


Tryland M. Virus infections in reindeer – a comparison between Norway and Iceland. Research seminar – Graduate School for Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, Uppsala September 24, 2018.


Riseth, J.Å. & Tømmervik, H. 2018. May Traditional Reindeer Herding Knowledge help in counteracting climate sensitive infections (CSIs)? 4th International Indigenous Social Work Conference; 2017-06-11 - 2017-06-14. Reindeer health – CLINF (delprosjektnummer 362256).


Riseth, J.Å. & Tømmervik, H. 2018. May Traditional Reindeer Herding Knowledge help in counteracting climate sensitive infections (CSIs)? Arctic Frontiers-Connecting the Arctic; 2018-01-21 - 2018-01-26. Reindeer health – CLINF (delprosjektnummer 362256).


Tømmervik, H. & Riseth, J.Å. 2018 Social aspects on reindeer disease problems – The contribution of traditional knowledge in counteracting climate sensitive infections. Aspects on Reindeer Herding and on their Important Infectious Diseases, 2018-09-24 - 2018-09-24, SLU, Uppsala. Reindeer health – CLINF (delprosjektnummer 362256).

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

This project has several interdisciplinary links. This research project is about infectious diseases in reindeer in Norway and Iceland, and how they might be linked to climate change. In addition to screening for diseases and disease pathogens (parasites, bacteria and viruses; VI and UiT), we also investigate traditional knowledge and how this is transmitted between reindeer herders (NINA, Norut). Further, the work in Iceland has been conducted in cooperation with the biologists and ecologists at East Iceland Nature Research Centre. The link to CLINF in the Nordic countries and Siberia also has interdisciplinary aspects, since the samples generated from this project is made available to CLINF, including how reindeer diseases may impact Northern societies. Through the field work (Norway) we also have direct contact with the involved reindeer herders.

Budget in accordance to results

The table below shows the budget for 2017 and 2018, both adjusted for reductions.



Budget (x 1000 NOK)






Fieldwork Norway



Fieldwork Iceland


















Other dissemination



UiT work hours



NINA work hours



Norut work hours



NINA Travels



Norut Travels






Overhead (11 %)



Total porject costs:















Application FRAM




Comments to the budget and expenses:

Also during 2018, we have not had separate project meetings as planned, since we have met associated to other meetings. The field work has been carried out as planned, but to some extent exceeding the budget posts for the FRAM project alone, but has been made possible through the allocations from the CLINF project. Money allocated for salary has been used during 2018 as budgeted (UiT, NINA, Norut).

There are no major deviations from the budget during 2018. Including the invoices and services already conducted, the remaining sum for 2018 will be used as planned until the end of this year, supplying diagnostic tests and consumables for the virology studies.

Could results from the project be subject for any commercial utilization
If Yes

There are no obvious links to commercialization of the results generated by this project.


The project has conducted field work in two ways. Fieldwork and interviews have been conducted in Gabna sameby (Sweden-Norway), Rebbenesøy reinbeitedistrikt, Mauken/Tromsdalen reinbeitedistrikt and Kanstadfjorden og Vestre Hinnøy reinbeitedistrikt. Further, we have conducted field work (i.e. sampling) in Tana, Hattfjelldal and Røros (semi-domesticated reindeer) and Iceland (wild reindeer).

A literature study has been conducted concerning climate, ethnographical literature and reindeer herders narratives about reindeer diseases from 1700 and up to 1960. Laboratory investigations are ongoing and will continue on the 2018-samples also in 2019. The project has generated a promising record on publications and other types of  dissemination during 2018.