Using camera traps to identify the influence of seasonal climate variations on the passage rates of a multi-species ungulate community in Öster Malma, Sweden

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

Abstract: Future climate change projections have consistently shown that globally we are heading for hotter summers, milder winters and less precipitation. Climate changes such as increasing temperatures will have an impact on the behaviour and distribution of both flora and fauna with shifts in their ranges in accordance with their climate boundaries. In Europe, ungulate species are expanding in both population size and distribution, leading to multi-species ungulate communities. It is important to understand what effect climate variations will have on the behaviour and movement of these communities. Sweden’s climate could see temperatures rise by approximately 3°C by 2100, therefore, there is a need to understand the impact this and other climate variations could have on its ungulate community. I have investigated the relationship between the climate variables, temperature and snow depth and the patch use of four ungulate species, moose (Alces alces), fallow deer (Dama dama), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) over a three year period in southern Sweden. I used images taken from camera traps at eight locations to calculate a monthly and seasonal passage rate for each species before carrying out statistical analysis in SPSS. The analysis showed a strong effect between temperature and roe deer monthly passage rates (p = <.001) while the other three species were not statistically significant. There was also a strong effect between snow depth and both monthly and seasonal fallow deer passage rates (p = .001; p = .019), the other three species were not statistically significant. While strong effects were found between some species and climate variations there is still a lot of uncertainty. It is more likely that other factors such as the site setup and forage availability had more of an influence over ungulate passage rates and therefore patch use. Further studies are needed to better understand the effect of climate variations on ungulate patch use.

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