Interspecific interaction among sympatric ungulates is important in management and conservation. We investigated behavioral interference between sympatric wild or semidomestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) and sheep (Ovis aries) in two field studies and one enclosure experiment. For free-ranging wild and semidomestic reindeer, interference between the two species increased with decreasing distances, occurring only at less than 200 m and 30 m, for wild and semidomestic reindeer, respectively, and neither species consistently dominated the other. In a controlled, duplicated experiment we tested interference and confrontations at the feeding patch level among semidomestic reindeer and sheep within 40 × 50 m enclosures. When new reindeer or sheep were introduced into enclosures already occupied by reindeer, new reindeer resulted in significantly more interference and confrontations among individuals compared to new sheep; i.e., intraspecific interference was more prevalent than interspecific interference at equal densities. For all study areas, confrontations decreased with time after “first encounter,” indicating cohabituation. A sympatric use of pastures was not visually disruptive for recorded grazing behavior for either species.
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Vol. 65 • No. 3