Carcasses of 323 reindeer who died of lightning strike led to increased plant diversity, study says

Many wondered how how a single lightning strike could result in such a massive death toll? But there's a silver lining


                            Carcasses of 323 reindeer who died of lightning strike led to increased plant diversity, study says

The cascasses of more than 300 reindeer that were struck dead by lightning in southeast Norway have led to increased plant diversity in the region, a study has found.

Around two years ago, 323 reindeer were struck by lightning and their bodies were left behind after removing their heads. When the incident took place in 2016, the animals were found huddled on top of each other in the mountain plateau. Authorities left the bodies behind after removing the heads of the animals in order to study diseases in deer and elks. As they have decayed, it is now being presumed that the carcasses might help nurture plant diversity in the area. 

According to a study published in Biology Study, when a large terrestrial animal's body decays, the plant life in the surrounding area tends to produce insufficient chlorophyll and eventually dies, leaving behind patches of "cadaver decomposition island". These bare patches, which are usually rich in nutrient, can boost up the regeneration of diverse plant lives. 



Along with these carcasses, animal feces could also help improve the variety of plant life, according to Sam Steyaert, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the University of South-Eastern Norway who set up a lab in the region in order to observe the feces which were concentrated around the carcasses. Sam and his team of researchers found out that most of the feces contained crowberry seeds, which had the potential to grow since the reindeer carcasses had already provided the suitable condition for their growth. 

However, it has been a case of wonder as to how a single lightning strike could result in such a massive death toll. According to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service, the collective death was caused by the ground current.

He said, "Lightning does not strike a point, it strikes an area. The physical flash you see strikes a point, but that lightning is radiating out as ground current and it’s very deadly. The electricity would go up one leg of the body and stop the heart and go down and out another leg. In an instant, of course.”

Their death was probably the cause of ground current. (Norweigan Environment Agency)
Their death was probably the cause of ground current. (Norweigan Environment Agency)