Movement ecology of ungulate communities : effect of species densities and habitat selection

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

Abstract: Animal movement is a topic important in various different ecological perspectives. Ungulate species are an important source of income, hunting game and subject for protection and management all across the globe. As multi-species management is becoming more common- information about movement patterns in relation to other ungulates and habitat selection may help to improve this matter. With data derived from moose (Alces alces), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), all located in a Swedish Nordic peninsula called Järnäshalvön, I chose to investigate this further. In this study I used telemetry data derived from GPS-collars on all three species to fit step-selection functions (iSSF) to habitat- and ungulate density covariates. Habitat covariates were retrieved from the Swedish land surveying agency in the form of a land use raster over the study area. Density covariates were created from pellet count- and camera trap data for each of the study species. All three species selected for clear-cut areas rather than forested areas during autumn and summer. Moose and red deer selected clear-cut areas during all four seasons which highlights the importance of directed management in order to prevent potential browsing damages on young forest stands. Differences in diurnal habitat selection were also visible where red deer stood out and selected for the majority of the habitat types during night, except for during summer. Moose and roe deer selected for low/medium densities of each other whilst red deer avoided low densities of roe deer. These results show that habitat selection differs amongst these three sympatric species and is also affected by season of the year and time of day. Densities of other ungulates clearly affects movement patterns, however, the resolution of the density covariates in relation to the telemetry data led to some limitations with the use of iSSF to generate results.

  AT THIS PAGE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE ESSAY. (follow the link to the next page)