Landscape factors influencing habitat and crop selection by wild boar in Sweden

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Ecology

Abstract: The wild boar population has increased rapidly during the last two decades in the southern and central parts of Sweden. This rise in population size has caused severe damages to agricultural fields through their foraging behavior. Thus, there is a need for improved knowledge about landscape factors influencing habitat selection which will help in the proper management of wild boar hence reducing the losses they cause in the agricultural sector. The main aim of this study is to evaluate landscape factors influencing wild boar selection of various habitats and crop fields in south-central Sweden. Eleven wild boar were fitted with GPS/GSM-collars to record movement among different habitats and crops. Data were analyzed using QGIS (version 3.10.0), R studio (version 3.6.2), and Microsoft Excel software. Descriptive statistics show that wild boar have a high preference for clear-cuts, agricultural fields, and deciduous forests, but show a lower preference for other kinds of open land. Wild boar tended to avoid growing and mature coniferous forests and open wetlands during summer but had a high preference for crop fields with oat, spring wheat, spring barley, and mixed crops. A binary logistic model revealed a significant influence of distance to feeding stations on the selection of different habitats and crop fields with both positive and negative effects. Distance to main roads also significantly influenced the proportion of selection of habitats and crop fields with both positive and negative correlation on the proportion of wild boar selection. As a general conclusion, feeding stations and roads influenced the selection of different habitats and crop fields differently. Further, wildlife management strategies on wild boar should be improved to consider both time and space to reduce damages on agricultural fields.

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