Christian Fohringer’s PhD Defence

March 5th, 2021

Title: Adaptations of mobile ungulates in a changing North.

Thesis: Access thesis here.

Defense date: Friday 19 March 2021, 09:00 -12:00 CET.

Location: Department of Fish, Wildlife and Environmental Studies at SLU in Umeå, Sweden. To join the online event click this link:

Passcode: 040955

The defence will also be streamed here.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Navinder J. Singh, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, SLU, Umeå.

Opponent: Professor Luca Börger, Department of Biosciences, College of Science, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom.



The combined effects of global warming and land use changes experienced by animals at high latitudes, are poorly understood. Social and eco-physiological perspectives are therefore necessary to elucidate where and when animals and the ecosystems they represent are most vulnerable to environmental change. This requires integration of multiple disciplines, application of novel and established methods as well as data, to achieve a holistic understanding of accumulating impacts of global change. In this work I investigate the impact of anthropogenic activities and shifting temperatures on keystone ungulates. I studied semi-domesticated reindeer Rangifer t. tarandus at the scale of their annual and seasonal pastures and moose Alces alces across a large biogeographical gradient across Sweden. Along with herder’s knowledge on land use and reindeer herding practices, I utilise an array of biomolecular approaches and sensors that characterise the eco-physiological state of moose. I found that both species are ecologically and physiologically impacted by land use and warming temperatures. Reindeer have lost pastures to the cascading effects of mining, with consequences on herder’s livelihood. Moose had higher metabolic expenditure in areas where they encounter increased anthropogenic and thermal stressors, reflected in starvation responses, shortened telomeres and modified behaviour. Overall, this work provides many novel insights into ongoing adaptations of ungulates under global change. My findings are crucial for aiding species and habitat protection across the northern hemisphere.