Wildlife Biology (WILDLIFE BIOL )

Publisher: Nordic Council for Wildlife Research


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Publications in this journal

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    ABSTRACT: Hunters’ preferences for different harvest principles and harvest regulations such as season length and harvest quotas provide important knowledge for wildlife management. We report results from a survey of 2788 willow ptarmigan hunters regarding commonly used harvest principles and -regulations. A harvest quota strategy was the most preferred principle. Hunters were in general more positive to an annual bag, than daily quotas. Age was a particularly strong predictor of the “no winter hunt” (after 23. December) regulation, and also a fairly strong predictor for the per annum and per day quota strategies respectively. This study has shown that ptarmigan hunters prefer annual quotas, rather than shortened hunting season or reduced number of hunters. We also emphasize the importance of Social-Ecological Systems thinking when adaptive management strategies are developed and that Management Strategy Evaluation models should be used to evaluate these strategies.
    Wildlife Biology 07/2014;
  • Wildlife Biology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos) population can be seen as a paradigm in conservation biology due to its endangerment status and genetic uniqueness. Therefore, the need to obtain basic demographic data to inform management actions for conservation is imperative. Despite this, empirical data on the size and trends of the Cantabrian bear population are scarce. Here we present the first estimates of population size (Nc) and effective population size (Ne) of the whole Cantabrian brown bear population. We genotyped 270 non-invasive samples collected during 2006 throughout the entire range of the population and subsequently identified 130 individuals. Different model estimators of Nc based on capture-mark-recapture (CMR) procedures were compared. The average for the best three models (Mh Chao, Mh Darroch and CAPWIRE TIRM) yielded a total estimate of Nc = 223 individuals (CI95% = 183–278) and Ne = 50 (CI95% = 36-75) providing an Ne/Nc ratio of 0.22. Estimates for the two subpopulations commonly recognized in the Cantabrian range were Nc = 203 (CI95% = 168–260) and Ne = 47 (CI95% = 36-70) for the western subpopulation and Nc = 19 (CI95% = 12–40) and Ne = 9 (CI95% = 8-12) for the eastern subpopulation. These data suggest that the Cantabrian brown bear population has increased recently, mainly in the western subpopulation, after a long period of decline and isolation which lead to the split of the population at the beginning of the 20th Century. Population sizes in the early 1990s were thought to be only 60 individuals for the western subpopulation and 14 individuals in the eastern one. The efforts to improve conservation policies made since then have probably contributed, to some extent, to the population increase during the last couple of decades.
    Wildlife Biology 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Characterizing landscapes as gradients may help illuminate animal-habitat relationships that are either (1) masked by or (2) impractical to investigate using a purely patch-based perspective. Among other methods, variogram models may reveal these gradients in the environment by quantifying spatial dependence among point samples, yet few analyses of animal-habitat relationships employing variograms have been undertaken. Using vegetation volume measurements from 4 m2 plots within breeding vesper sparrow (Pooecetes graminues) territories, we calculated four territory-scale gradients: (1) mean volume, (2) standard deviation of volume, (3) nugget (a measure of fine-scale variation), and (4) range (an index of patch size). The first two gradients are more commonly employed in animal ecology while the second two were derived using variogram models and are infrequently employed. We next used these gradients in generalized linear models predicting territory occupancy and daily nest survival. We found overwhelming support for employing the range parameter and models indicated (1) birds selected areas with lower average vegetation volume and smaller patch sizes and (2) had lower rates of nest predation in areas with larger patch sizes. While these results indicate a pattern of non-ideal habitat selection, there was no indication that territories which experienced nest predation were selected disproportionately. Our results underscore the utility of (1) variograms among other methods for quantifying gradients in animal habitat and (2) variogram model parameters in investigating the habitat ecology of animals.
    Wildlife Biology 01/2014; In press.
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    ABSTRACT: The number of staging geese in northwestern Europe has increased dramatically. Growing goose numbers put strong grazing pressure on agricultural pastures. Damage to agricultural land may be mitigated by managing nature reserves in order to optimally accommodate large numbers of grazing geese. Livestock grazing has been shown to facilitate foraging geese; we take the novel approach of determining the effects of four different livestock grazing treatments in a replicated experiment on the distribution of geese. We present experimental field evidence that livestock grazing of a salt marsh in summer affects the habitat preference of foraging geese during autumn and spring staging. In an experimental field set-up with four different livestock grazing treatments we assessed goose visitation through dropping counts, in both autumn and spring. Grazing treatments included 0.5 or 1 horse/ha and 0.5 or 1 cattle/ha during the summer season. The livestock grazing regime affected goose distribution in autumn, just after livestock had been removed from the salt marsh. In autumn, goose visitation was highest in the 1 head/ha grazing treatments, where grazing intensity by livestock was also highest. In line with this result, goose visitation was lowest in the 0.5 head/ha livestock grazing treatments, where the grazing intensity by livestock was lowest. The differences in goose visitation among the experimental treatments in autumn could not be explained by the canopy height. In spring we did not find any effect of livestock grazing treatment on goose visitation. Differences in the distribution of geese over the experiment between autumn and spring may be explained by changes in the availability of nutrient-rich vegetation. Livestock summer grazing with a high stocking density, especially with horses, can be used to attract geese to salt marshes in autumn and potentially reduces damage caused by geese to inland farmland. From a nature conservation interest point of view, however, variation in structure of the vegetation is a prerequisite for other groups of organisms. Hence, we recommend grazing of salt marshes with densities of 0.5 head/ha of livestock when goose conservation is not the only management issue.
    Wildlife Biology 01/2014; 20(2):67-72.
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    ABSTRACT: Translocation of captive-reared animals is widely used as a tool for endangered species recovery. Frequently, translocated populations have relatively low initial productivity, requiring management intervention. A translocated population of whooping cranes Grus americana in central Wisconsin is such a case. We examined chick mortality for this population and used daily chick survival rates as our response variable to model several parameters including phenology, chick age, energetics and parent age and experience. We also developed and evaluated adoption techniques using sandhill cranes Grus canadensis to mitigate the effects of high chick mortality and increase the probability of fledging. Our results illustrate the challenges that translocated populations can face as they encounter novel breeding conditions. We found that whooping crane daily chick survival was relatively low and most mortality events occurred within the first 20 days. Our results indicated that variables related to age of the parents as well as the pair's previous chick rearing experience were useful for predicting daily chick survival. We found that sandhill crane foster parents readily accepted replacement chicks. We also demonstrated adopted chicks acceptance of foster parents and that the chicks' source (captive-born vs wild-born) did not affect success of the adoption. Chick adoption provides several management options that could be used to bypass the period when chicks experience the greatest mortality. Reducing chick mortality and developing techniques to increase the number of fledged chicks is paramount for whooping crane recovery as well as the recovery of other endangered bird species.
    Wildlife Biology 12/2013; 19(4):420.
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge of resource selection patterns can provide important information for species conservation. During spring 2010 and 2011, we investigated habitat selection by territorial rock ptarmigan Lagopus muta helvetica males in a protected area of the western Italian Alps. We located males from 30 randomly selected survey points, and we measured the proportions of cover-type categories found within a 37-ha area surrounding each observed bird using three classification maps of differing information and resolution. We also evaluated physical variables (altitude, slope and solar radiation) associated with the birds using a 75-m digital terrain model. We modelled land cover and physical attributes under these three alternative land-classification maps. The lowest resolution map, based on the Corine land-cover map, did not have high predictive value because only orographic variables described the presence of birds; in our case, we found a negative effect of slope and a positive effect of altitude on presence of ptarmigan. The next higher resolution map, a local forest resource map, showed that slope had a negative effect and rocky grasslands had a positive effect on ptarmigan presence. Finally, using the highest resolution map, a phytosociological map of our Natural Park study area, the best-ranked models were those having only cover-type variables, with alpenrose Rhododendron ferrugineum and blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus scrubland and pioneer vegetation negatively correlated with the presence of rock ptarmigan. We concluded that a staged approach that uses maps of differing detail was successful for obtaining useful information on rock ptarmigan habitat selection, but the most interesting results about rock ptarmigan habitat selection at the scale of breeding territories were obtained only using a very detailed vegetation map. Because such detailed information is difficult to obtain on larger scales, we suggest wildlife managers cooperate to build similar mapping tools that allow analyses similar to ours.
    Wildlife Biology 12/2013;