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Wild ungulate overabundance in Europe: contexts, causes, monitoring and management recommendations

AuthorsCarpio, Antonio J.; Apollonio, Marco; Acevedo, Pelayo
Issue Date2021
CitationMammal Review 51(1): 95-108 (2021)
AbstractHigh‐density populations of large ungulates are now widespread. However, the perception of overabundance only appears when it produces a problem for humans, such as a loss of plant diversity, damage to agricultural crops and forestry, ungulate‐vehicle collisions, a nuisance to humans, disease transmission to livestock or changes in habitat for other species. The admissible level of density depends on the ecological and socio‐economic context in which the population is located, and defining this level is important, in order to determine management strategies and actions.
We describe the main contexts in which ungulate overabundance occurs in Europe, record the causes of overabundance and evaluate which set of indicators of ecological change is the most appropriate for monitoring and diagnosing overabundance in each scenario.
Our review of 318 published papers revealed six contexts of wild ungulate overabundance in Europe (protected areas, hunting areas, forestry, arable farming, livestock farming and [peri]urban areas). In addition to population abundance, four sets of indicators of environmental change could be used to monitor overabundance within these contexts (impacts on habitats, impact on animal performance, increments in diseases and parasite loads, and increments in nuisance to humans).
Nine species of ungulate were found to be overabundant. Red deer Cervus elaphus was the species most likely to be overabundant in the contexts of protected areas (detailed in 27% of papers on that context) and hunting areas (38%); roe deer Capreolus capreolus in forestry (28%); wild boar Sus scrofa in arable farming (60%), livestock farming (29%) and (peri)urban areas (38%). Our evidence shows that the diagnosis and monitoring of ungulate population overabundance via indicators of ecological change, and the management actions required to control these undesirable situations, are strongly context‐dependent.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/mam.12221
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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