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A Svalbard reindeer stands on an icy road outside Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Norway. Svalbard reindeer are the smallest subspecies of Rangifer tarandus. They feed on lichens and other food found under the snow. In winter the reindeer feed along ridges, mountain slopes, plateaus and other areas where little snow accumulation occurs. The Svalbard reindeer is adapted to survive the variable climatic conditions and the high degree of seasonality in Svalbard. They are very sedentary and thus have low energy demands. The thick fur contributes to insulation against low temperatures and wind. Starvation is the most common cause of mortality. This occurs due to worn out teeth from grazing on sparse vegetation among stones and gravel or due to lack of food when ice covers pastures.
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