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Understanding long-term hunting statistics: The case of Spain (1972-2007)

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Hunting is assuming a growing role in the current European forestry and agroforestry landscape. However, consistent statistical sources that provide quantitative information for policy-making, planning and management of game resources are often lacking. In addition, in many instances statistical information can be used without sufficient evaluation or criticism. Recently, the European Commission has declared the importance of high quality hunting statistics and the need to set up a common scheme in Europe for their collection, interpretation and proper use. This work aims to contribute to this current debate on hunting statistics in Europe by exploring data from the last 35 years of Spanish hunting statistics. The analysis focuses on the three major pillars underpinning hunting activity: hunters, hunting grounds and game animals. First, the study aims to provide a better understanding of official hunting statistics for use by researchers, game managers and other potential users. Second, the study highlights the major strengths and weaknesses of the statistical information that was collected. The results of the analysis indicate that official hunting statistics can be incomplete, dispersed and not always homogeneous over a long period of time. This is an issue of which one should be aware when using official hunting data for scientific or technical work. To improve statistical deficiencies associated with hunting data in Spain, our main suggestion is the adoption of a common protocol on data collection to which different regions agree. This protocol should be in accordance with future European hunting statistics and based on robust and well-informed data collection methods. Also it should expand the range of biological, ecological and economic concepts currently included to take account of the profound transformations experienced by the hunting sector in recent years. As much as possible, any future changes in the selection of hunting statistics should allow for comparisons between new variables with the previous ones.
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Understanding long-term hunting statistics:
the case of Spain (1972-2007)
M. Martinez-Jauregui1*, C. Arenas2and A. C. Herruzo2
1 CIFOR-INIA. Ctra. A Coruña, km 7,5. 28040 Madrid. Spain
2 ETSI Montes. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Ciudad Universitaria, s/n. 28040 Madrid. Spain
Abstract
Hunting is assuming a growing role in the current European forestry and agroforestry landscape. However, consistent
statistical sources that provide quantitative information for policy-making, planning and management of game resources
are often lacking. In addition, in many instances statistical information can be used without sufficient evaluation or
criticism. Recently, the European Commission has declared the importance of high quality hunting statistics and the
need to set up a common scheme in Europe for their collection, interpretation and proper use. This work aims to
contribute to this current debate on hunting statistics in Europe by exploring data from the last 35 years of Spanish
hunting statistics. The analysis focuses on the three major pillars underpinning hunting activity: hunters, hunting
grounds and game animals. First, the study aims to provide a better understanding of official hunting statistics for use
by researchers, game managers and other potential users. Second, the study highlights the major strengths and
weaknesses of the statistical information that was collected. The results of the analysis indicate that official hunting
statistics can be incomplete, dispersed and not always homogeneous over a long period of time. This is an issue of
which one should be aware when using official hunting data for scientific or technical work. To improve statistical
deficiencies associated with hunting data in Spain, our main suggestion is the adoption of a common protocol on data
collection to which different regions agree. This protocol should be in accordance with future European hunting
statistics and based on robust and well-informed data collection methods. Also it should expand the range of biological,
ecological and economic concepts currently included to take account of the profound transformations experienced by
the hunting sector in recent years. As much as possible, any future changes in the selection of hunting statistics should
allow for comparisons between new variables with the previous ones.
Key words: hunting; licenses; hunters; ranches; captures.
Resumen
Estadísticas oficiales de caza: el caso de España (1972-2007)
La caza está cobrando un creciente protagonismo en los terrenos forestales y agroforestales europeos actuales. Por
ello, resulta esencial contar con unas fuentes estadísticas consistentes, en muchos casos inexistentes, que proporcio-
nen la información cuantitativa necesaria para la elaboración de políticas, la planificación y la gestión de los recur-
sos cinegéticos disponibles. La Unión Europea ha manifestado recientemente el interés por la mejora de las estadís-
ticas de caza y la necesidad de establecer un protocolo común europeo para la recogida y uso de las estadísticas de
caza. Este trabajo pretende contribuir al debate sobre las mejora de las estadísticas de caza europeas mediante un aná-
lisis crítico de las estadísticas oficiales nacionales de caza en España en los últimos 35 años. El análisis se centra so-
bre los tres grandes pilares que sustentan a la actividad cinegética: los cazadores, los terrenos y los ejemplares cine-
géticos abatidos. En concreto, se facilita a investigadores, gestores y demás usuarios una mejor comprensión de la
estadística oficial de la caza y, en segundo lugar, se ponen de relieve sus principales fortalezas y debilidades. Los re-
sultados obtenidos indican que la estadística oficial de la caza en España es incompleta, se encuentra dispersa y no es
homogénea a lo largo del periodo de estudio; hechos a tener en cuenta a la hora de utilizar estos datos. En consecuen-
cia, en este trabajo se aclaran conceptos de la información disponible y se proponen posibles mejoras en la estadísti-
ca cinegética que permitan contribuir en el futuro a un mejor conocimiento del sector. La principal medida que se pro-
pone es la adopción de un protocolo común de recogida de información para las diferentes regiones de España, que
un fututo debería estar coordinado con los avances de las estadísticas de caza europeos. Este protocolo debería ba-
* Corresponding author: martinez.maria@inia.es
Received: 24-09-10; Accepted: 11-02-11.
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA) Forest Systems 2011 20(1), 139-150
Available online at www.inia.es/forestsystems ISSN: 1131-7965
eISSN: 2171-9845
Introduction
Hunting has acquired significant economic and
environmental importance in recent decades in the con-
text of growing social demand in Europe (Díaz et al.,
2008). Due to the increase in the quality of life expe-
rienced in most industrialized societies, hunting, and
especially big-game hunting, has become a luxury ex-
panding activity. These changes in the demand for hun-
ting may be one of the factors that have led to dramatic
increases in ungulates in Europe during the past several
decades (Milner et al., 2006). There have also been
supply factors affecting hunting populations, such as
the transformation of agricultural practices, institutio-
nal changes and biological factors (Ortuño, 1970; López,
1986; Delibes-Mateos et al., 2009; Vargas et al., 2006).
Some species, particularly deer and wild boar, have
become the main animal species in forestry and agrofo-
restry systems (San Miguel, 1994; Carranza, 1999),
and, throughout Europe these species commonly provi-
de an important economic activity but also growing
concerns (Côté et al., 2004; Mysterud, 2010). This
situation has implications for the economic, cultural
and environmental changes taking place in rural areas.
Hunting must be considered in the conservation and
management of natural resources in rural areas. This
requires, in turn, precise and extensive statistical infor-
mation on which to base possible indices and actions.
In this sense, official hunting statistics are an important
analytical tool for our society. They help decision-makers
learn more about the economic, ecological and social
situation of this sector. As a result, hunting statis-
tics are essential for developing policies and effective
planning and management of available hunting resour-
ces. Since the late 20th century, hunting legislation has
explicitly reflected the importance of statistical infor-
mation for the sound management of hunting resources
(e.g., from the late 1980s in Spain: Ley 4/1989, de 27
de marzo, sobre Conservación de Espacios Naturales
y de la Fauna y Flora; Ley 43/2003, de 21 de noviem-
bre, de Montes; y Ley 42/2007, de 13 de diciembre, del
Patrimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad). Recently, the
European Commission (Athens on 3rd June 2006) has
declared the importance of high quality hunting bag
statistics and the need to set up a common scheme in
Europe for the collection, scientific interpretation and
proper use of hunting statistics (http://ec.europa.eu/
environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/hunting/
index_en.htm, consulted in February 2011). However,
despite the legislative efforts, hunting resources remain
less well-known than other products and forest resour-
ces (forest, timber or livestock production), and the
available statistical information on hunting has been
scarce and scattered (Apollonio et al., 2010). The diff i-
culty of obtaining information on a national scale has
been exacerbated by the complexity of hunting due to
the different types of hunting, the large amount of
species involved and the heterogeneity in hunting grounds
and management practices. All of this has contributed
to hunting being relegated to second place in the
decision-making process concerning the production or
protective role of forests (e.g., for wood and other natu-
ral resources). Hence, it is important to obtain accurate
statistics that will allow us to better describe and un-
derstand this sector.
Unlike other forest resources, and with the exception
of information on foreign trade of meat (the database
of statistics of EUROSTAT, FAO and FAOSTAT), hun-
ting does not have a source of official statistics at the
international scale. The absence of a shared internatio-
nal statistical protocol for hunting makes national hun-
ting statistical data very heterogeneous and often diffi-
cult to compare, not only because of the type of
information collected, but also because of the metho-
dology employed to obtain it. For example, in France,
Austria and Hungary, data on the demographic compo-
sition of captured big game (males, females and calves)
is available, while in other European countries, such
as Spain, Germany or Poland, this information is not
available (Milner et al., 2006).
Despite the limitations of hunting statistics, we find
studies on the hunting sector that, for decades, have
depended on them. For example, in Spain these studies
have been carried out both in the social sciences, such
as studies by López Ontiveros (1986), Cecilia and
Martínez (1986), or Fernández-Cavada et al. (2008),
140 M. Martinez-Jauregui et al. / Forest Systems (2011) 20(1), 139-150
sarse en una metodología consolidada y adaptarse a las profundas transformaciones experimentadas por el sector de
la caza en los últimos años, tanto desde un punto de vista biológico como ecológico y económico. No obstante, se
quiere resaltar que los cambios presentes y futuros de las estadísticas deberían siempre permitir las comparaciones
entre las nuevas variables y las anteriores.
Palabras clave: cinegética; licencia; cazador; terreno; coto; captura.
and in biology and the natural sciences, e.g., Virgos et
al. (2007). Over time, authors have been paying less
attention to the analysis and assessment of the statis-
tical sources used. In particular, we have detected re-
duced criticism about the significance and meaning of
the collected variables, data quality and their reliability.
This could lead to erroneous interpretations of the sta-
tistical information available, leading to inappropriate
outcomes and conclusions.
The above situation suggests the need for studies
such as this one that gathers, systematizes, analyzes and
provides an in-depth evaluation of hunting statistics.
Our main objective is to provide information and dis-
cussion for the current debate on the improvement of
European hunting statistics as has been pointed out by
the European Commission. To achieve this objective
we first aim to facilitate a better understanding of offi-
cial Spanish hunting data for researchers and other
users. Second, we highlight the strengths and weak-
nesses of the currently used Spanish hunting statistics.
We also suggest realistic remedies to some limitations
of the statistics that we think could be easily introduced
in the near future in order to contribute to a better
understanding of the hunting sector and, consequently,
provide better tools for its management. This work fo-
cuses on official Spanish hunting statistics in the
period 1972-2007. This period was chosen for two rea-
sons. First, it was from 1972 onwards that Spanish hun-
ting statistics were systematically produced and the
number of measured variables expanded (MA, 1973-
1981b). Second, it was also during this period that the
current Spanish hunting and game management model
took shape. This study focuses on statistical data rela-
ting to the three cornerstones that underpin hunting:
hunters, hunting grounds and wild game captures.
Material and methods
Sources for hunting statistics
In the first half of the 20th century, the collection of
statistical information on hunting in Spain was scarce
and was not characterized by a systematic approach.
The first explicit official hunting information in Spain
appeared in 1923 (INE, 1923). In 1936, the «Ministerio
de Agricultura Industria y Comercio» published data
on hunting licenses related to the period from 1930-
1934 (Pardo, 1936). From 1940, statistical resources
included a section on hunting in the annual reports of
the «Dirección General de Montes, Caza y Pesca Fluvial»
(MA, 1955). More recently, i.e., since 1965, game in-
formation began to be quantitative and more systematic
(MA, 1956-1972; MA, 1973-1981b; MAPA, 1982-
1984; MAPA, 1985-1988). It should also be mentioned
that hunting guides have been edited by the «Ministe-
rio de Información y Turismo» since 1960; the guide
corresponding to 1969 presented comprehensive infor-
mation on hunting species, methods of hunting and
hunting grounds (MIT, 1969). In addition, hunting trophy
catalogues have been continuously published since the
early 1950s and contain data on trophy scores and awards
of the species hunted (MA, 1951, 1959, 1960, 1962,
1973, 1979; MAPA, 1988, 1994, 1999; MARM, 2004).
However, it was not until the 1970s when an impor-
tant advance in the official statistics of hunting in Spain
took place. During this period, the collection of infor-
mation was standardized and the number of variables
was expanded to include hunting licenses, hunting
grounds and captures. From 1972 to 2003, the core of
these statistics were published in the yearbooks of agri-
cultural and food statistics of the «Ministerio de Agri-
cultura» (AEA) (MA, 1973-1981a; MAPA, 1982-1999;
MAPA, 2000-2004) and in the following years until
2007 in the yearbooks of forestry statistics (AEF)
(MARM, 2009). Additional information on hunting
arms has been provided in the statistical yearbooks of
the «Ministerio de Interior» (AEMI) (MI, 1995-2008).
Hunting trophies were described in hunting trophy
catalogues (MA, 1973, 1979; MAPA, 1988, 1994, 1999;
MARM, 2004). Foreign trade statistics published by
the «Ministerio de Economía y Hacienda» include
information on game meat trade at the national level
(MH, 1973-2008). In recent years, some Autonomous
Communities have also published regional hunting
statistics. A brief characterization of the main statis-
tical sources is provided in Table 1.
Currently, hunting statistics in Spain are included
in the National Statistical Plan 2009-2012 (Real
Decreto 1663/2008 of 17 October) that includes, among
many other statistics, those that are aimed at the evalua-
tion of hunting products and additional economic bene-
fits of this activity. These statistics are integrated in
the Bank of Biodiversity Data.
Analysis
All variables related to the Spanish hunting sector
found in official statistical sources have been studied.
Understanding long-term hunting statistics: the case of Spain (1972-2007) 141
142 M. Martinez-Jauregui et al. / Forest Systems (2011) 20(1), 139-150
Table 1. Characterization of the main official statistical sources available for the hunting sector
Agricultural Statistics Yearbook (AEA)
Available dates: 1972-2003, 2005 and 2006, although the 2005 and
2006 data are taken from the AEF.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: Ministerio de Agricultura in its various incarnations over
time, now Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino.
Aim: Food and agricultural activity.
General difficulties: Lack of information on the methodology of da-
ta collection and explicit definitions. Lack of data in 2004. Digital
since 1996.
Thematic areas:
Historical series and regional analysis of game hunting licenses
issued.
Hunting grounds.
Number, weight and meat value of game animals shot. Regio-
nal analysis.
Number of game-farms (only available for 1972).
Reports on Activities of the National Institute
for the Conservation of Nature (M)
Available dates: 1972-1983.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: National Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICONA).
Ministerio de Agricultura or Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Ali-
mentación.
Aim: Forest activity.
General difficulties: Not available in digital format. Very hetero-
geneous information.
Thematic areas:
Historical series, regional analysis of hunting licenses issued,
distinguishing rates and surcharges.
Number and area occupied of the different types of hunting grounds
subject to special arrangement. Additional information is someti-
mes available as the number of game preserves dedicated to big
game or small game, restocking, expenses and incomes, Hunter
hour periods, hunting methods, trophy awards granted, etc.
Number of hunting grounds, their animal inventory and pro-
duction.
Statistical Yearbook of the Regional Environment
Services
Available dates: Varies by Autonomous Community.
Frequency: Variable.
Source: Regional Environmental Services.
General difficulties: Diversity and heterogeneity in the databases
of the various Autonomous Communities.
Forest Statistics Yearbook (AEF)
Available dates: 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino.
Aim: Forest activity.
General difficulties: Lack of information on the methodology of da-
ta collection and explicit definitions. Available data only until 2007.
There is a significant delay in the statistics.
Thematic areas:
Historical series and regional analysis of hunting licenses issued.
Hunting grounds (2005 is not available).
Number, weight and meat value of game animals shot. Regio-
nal analysis.
Regional analysis of restocking (not available for 2005).
Number of game-farms (not available for 2005).
Hunting species production (not available for 2005).
Reports about Forestry and Nature Preservation (M)
Available dates: 1984-1987.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: Regional Services of agriculture and environment and Na-
tional Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICONA). Ministe-
rio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación.
Aim: Forest activity.
General difficulties: Not available in digital format. Information is
incomplete (missing data from some Autonomous Communities).
Very heterogeneous information.
Thematic areas:
Historical series, regional analysis of hunting licenses issued,
distinguishing rates and surcharges.
Number and area occupied of the different types of lands sub-
ject to special arrangement. Sometimes additional information
is available as the number of game preserves dedicated to big
game or small game, or expenses and incomes.
Number of hunter days, number of big-game and small-game
captures associated with different hunting grounds.
Statisctical Yearbook of the Ministry of Interior (AEMI)
Available dates: 1989-2007.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: Ministerio de Interior.
Aim: Various essential legal and social aspects.
General difficulties: Digital format available since 1998. Informa-
tion related to hunting only from 1994.
Thematic areas:
Hunting weapon licenses.
Hunting firearms certificates.
The meaning of these variables has been clarified, the
methodologies of data collection have been assessed
and the consistency of the data series has been analyzed.
Results
Hunting licenses, hunting weapons licenses
and hunting arms certificates
Hunters are one of the three constitutive elements
of hunting, along with hunting grounds and game. In
Spain, there is no nationwide register of hunters, so
the number of hunters has to be estimated indirectly
through information provided by hunting licenses,
hunting weapon licenses and hunting arms certificates
(guías de armas).
Annual information on hunting licenses includes:
number of licenses issued, license fees and number of
renewed licenses (licenses issued in previous years but
still active in the current year). In Spain, nobody can
carry or own firearms without legal authorization, and
a hunting weapon license is required for hunting fire-
arms. This authorization is mandatory and non-transfe-
rable to other hunters. In addition, it is mandatory for
hunting firearms to be registered at the Ministry of
Interior and firearms are also subject to regular controls
and revisions.
This information is not homogeneous over the study
period due to the data collection procedures and changes
in the definitions of variables (Table 2).
Hunting grounds
Recent legislation regulating hunting grounds in
Spain include the «Hunting law» of 4 April 1970 (Ley
1/1970) and the Decree of 25 March 1971 (Decreto
506/1971). These pieces of legislation established two
types of hunting areas: (1) hunting grounds of common
use, where hunting could take place during permitted
seasons with no other limitations besides the possession
of valid hunting and firearms licenses and other basic
legal restrictions; and (2) hunting grounds subject to
special arrangements, which included among them
several types of game states (private, social, local and
national game states), areas subject to hunting control
schemes, national hunting reserves, hunting game refu-
ges as well as national parks.
The integration of Spain into the European Economic
Community (1986) implied changes in Spanish hunting
legislation (Ley 4/1989, de 27 de marzo, de Conserva-
ción de los Espacios Naturales y de la Flora y Fauna
Silvestre and Ley 42/2007, de 13 de diciembre, del Pa-
trimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad). Since the
1980s, the transferring of legal responsibility in the
field of hunting to the Autonomous Communities has
also produced an intense regional legislative process.
Most Autonomous Communities have enacted regional
hunting laws incorporating the new requirements on the
use and conservation of nature. This has normally led
to new classifications of hunting grounds in each region.
Variables that describe hunting territories in official
Spanish statistics are generally limited to the number
and area occupied by the different types of hunting
grounds. However, in the period 1972-1987, more de-
tailed information is available concerning some of these
hunting territories, although the data are more irregular
and heterogeneous. For example, the number of indivi-
duals introduced, captured or the number of hunting
permits associated within a hunting territory (MA,
1973-1981b; MAPA, 1982-1984; MAPA, 1985-1988)
are available. This latest information is not included
in Table 3.
Harvest estimates
One of the key aspects of interest in the study of the
hunting sector is the number of game animals shot, as
Understanding long-term hunting statistics: the case of Spain (1972-2007) 143
Table 1 (cont.). Characterization of the main official statistical sources available for the hunting sector
Catalogues of Game Trophies
Available dates: 1975-2000.
Frequency: Multi-annual (1988, 1994, 1999 and 2004).
Source: Game trophies homologation board.
Aim: Game trophy awards approved in Spain.
General difficulties: Difficulties in locating the area of preceden-
ce of trophies.
Thematic areas: Game trophies awarded and scores.
International Trade Statistics Yearbooks
Available dates: Prior to 1972 to the present day.
Frequency: Annual.
Source: Directorate General of customs. Ministerio de Economía y
Hacienda.
Aim: Record foreign trade statistics.
General difficulties: Changes in nomenclature headings over time.
Thematic areas: Imports and exports of game meat.
they are the final object of hunting. What is more, each
game animal shot entails costs and returns, as animals
are alive in the forest before being hunted, and in turn
revenues may also be derived from their capture, such
as the sale of goods (meat, trophies) and services
(commercial hunting). In addition, utility may also be
derived from non-commercial recreational hunting
(hunting self-consumption).
Information about harvests of game animals gathered
in the official Spanish statistics include the quantity
of animals shot, the quality of trophies, economic va-
riables and game meat purchase and sold in foreign
trade. In particular, the variables for which official
information is provided are the following: (a) shot
animals: number and total carcass weight; (b) trophies:
number, scores and awards (medallas); (c) value of
meat from shot animals; (d) complementary revenues:
income received by the use of land in hunting, excluding
the value of game meat and (e) game meat trade: weight
and value of exports and imports of game animal meat.
This information comes from various sources and is
not homogeneous across time (Table 4). Apart from
the sources described in these Tables, there is supple-
mentary information for the period 1972-1987 (MA,
1973-1981b; MAPA, 1982-1984; MAPA, 1985-1988).
Discussion
Hunters
Until the Autonomous Communities began to issue
their own hunting licenses in the late 1980s (entitled
by Ley 4/1989, de 27 de marzo, de Conservación de
los Espacios Naturales y de la Flora y Fauna Silves-
tres), it was possible to accurately approximate the
number of hunters nationwide by the number of
national licenses issued. Since then, it has been ne-
cessary to hold more than one hunting license to hunt
across Spain. Thus, statistical figures on the number
144 M. Martinez-Jauregui et al. / Forest Systems (2011) 20(1), 139-150
Table 2. Main information available in official Spanish sources on hunting licenses, surcharges, hunting weapon licenses
and hunting firearms certificates
Scale Years Official
Variables variable** of collected statistic
information source
Number of hunting licenses issued
1
Regional and national 1972
2
, 1973-2002, 2003
3
, M, AEA y AEF
2005-2007 M, AEA y AEF
Number of hunting licenses issued by license type
4
Regional and national 1973-1989 M, AEA
Surcharges to hunting licenses issued
5
Regional and national 1975-1987 M
Economic value of hunting licenses issued Regional and national 1972-2002, 2005-2007 M, AEA y AEF
Economic value of hunting licenses issued by license typ
4
Regional and national 1973, 1984, 1988, 1989 M
6
, AEA
Economic value of surcharges to hunting licenses issued
5
Regional and national 1984 M
Number of renewed hunting license
6
Regional and national 2005-2007 AEA y AEF
Economic value of valid hunting licenses
6
Regional and national 2005-2007 AEA y AEF
Number of rifle and shotgun with rifled barrel licenses National 1994-2007 AEMI
issued and renewed
Number of smoothbore shotguns and rimfire rifles issued National 1994-2007 AEMI
and renewed
Number of weapons active by weapon type National 1994-2007 AEMI
1In most sources (M and AEA), a historic number of hunting licenses issued nationwide is provided. The oldest date collected is
1948. 2In 1972 there is only data at the national scale. 3In 2003 there is only information available about the number of hunting
licenses issued at the national scale. 4A Type A license is for hunting by any authorized process including firearms; a Type B li-
cense is for hunting with any approved procedure except with firearms and a Type C license is for any procedure requiring speci-
fic authorization. 5Before the transfer of responsibilities for the regulation of hunting to the Autonomous Communities, surchar-
ges were needed at the national scale for some types of hunting. 6Renewed licenses issued in previous years but still active in the
current year. M: reports on activities of the National Institute for the Conservation of Nature and reports about forestry and natu-
re preservation. AEA: Agricultural Statistics Yearbook. AEF: Forest Statistics Yearbook. AEMI: Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry
of Interior.
of hunting licenses issued at the national scale do not
currently reflect the actual number of hunters in Spain.
However, for the same reason, it is possible to identify
the number of people (local, national and foreign) hunting
in one Autonomous Community from the number of
active licenses issued in that Autonomous Community.
Understanding long-term hunting statistics: the case of Spain (1972-2007) 145
Table 3. Main information available about hunting grounds subject to special arrangement for the period 1972-2007
Variable
Years collected
Classification of hunting grounds of collected for each Information Official
information type of scale source
hunting
ground
National hunting reserves, national hunting states, social hunting states, 1972 Number National M, AEA
private hunting states, local hunting states, hunting controlled zones
(in charge of the ICONA), hunting controlled zones (in charge Area National M, AEA
of corporate partners) and refuges of hunting.
National hunting reserves, national hunting states, social hunting states, 1973 Number Regional M, AEA
private hunting states and local hunting states and national
Area National M
National hunting reserves, national hunting states, social hunting states, 1974-19851, Number Regional M, AEA
private hunting states, local hunting states, hunting controlled zones 1986-20031and national
(in charge of the ICONA, hunter societies or Autonomous Communities)
and refuges of hunting. 1974-19911Area National M, AEA
National hunting reserves, private hunting states, regional-local hunting 2006 Number Regional AEA, AEF
states, social hunting states, social-sportive hunting states, local-sportive and 2007 and national
hunting states, intensive hunting states, refuge of fauna, game refuge, Area Regional AEA, AEF
hunting controlled zones and security areas and national
M: reports on activities of the National Institute for the Conservation of Nature and reports about forestry and nature preservation. AEA:
Agricultural Statistics Yearbook. AEF: Forest Statistics Yearbook. 1Since 1984, information in many years has not been updated.
Table 4. Main information available on shot animals for the period 1972-2007
Classification of shot animals Variables Level of detail Years of collected
and information scale information
Up to 2003:
Deer, wild boar, hare, rabbit, partridge,
quail, other big game, other game sma-
ller mammals and other game birds.
From 2005:
Deer, roe deer, Spanish ibex, fallow deer,
mouflon, Barbary sheep, wild boar, hare,
rabbit, partridge, quail, other big game,
other game smaller mammals and other
game birds1
All the species available
Number
Carcass weight
Value of game meat
Complementary
revenues
Trophy
information3: score
and awards
Regional and by species
National and by species
Regional regardless of
species
Regional and by species
National and by species
Regional regardless of
species
Regional and by species
National and by species
Regional regardless of
species
National and by species2
By regions and species
1973-2003, 2005-2007
1973-2003, 2005-2007
1975-2003, 2005-2006
1988-2003, 2005-2006
1974-2003, 2005-2006
1972-2003, 2005-2006
1988-2003, 2005-2006
1973-2003, 2005-2006
1988-2003
1973-2003, 2005
1975-20063
1In 2006 and 2007, more species are considered. 2Number of regions that do not declare the complementary revenues increase
over time. 3Information relating to the years 2001-2006 is preliminary because the trophy catalogue is still in development.
It is important to note that until the early 1990s,
hunting licenses in Spain were only valid for the year
that they were issued. This suggests that the number
of hunting licenses issued in one year coincided with
the number of active hunting licenses. However, shortly
thereafter in some Autonomous Communities it was
possible to obtain hunting licenses for periods longer
than one year. For example, in Castilla-La-Mancha this
was possible starting in 1993, and in La Rioja, this was
possible beginning in 1994. This new situation regar-
ding the concession of hunting licenses posed a pro-
blem in interpreting official statistics for more than a
decade, as the number of hunting licenses published
annually in the AEA (1972-2003) referred exclusively
to the license issues in that year and not to the number
of active licenses, which also included previously
issued licenses. Fortunately, this deficiency has been
remedied since 2005, and now the variables «active
licenses» and «issued licenses» are distinguished in
the AEF. This problem that derived from failing to
consider both variables can be illustrated by looking
at the data corresponding to 2005. According to AEF,
during that year the number of hunting licenses issued
was 1,069,804 licenses, while the number of active
hunting licenses amounted to 1,654,308. By only looking
at issued licenses, the number of hunters is reduced to
64% of the actual number. The recent movement
towards promoting a single hunting license for groups
of Autonomous Communities (such as Cataluña, Cas-
tilla y León, Aragón, Andalucía, Baleares and Valencia
in 2009) may create new difficulties for identifying the
actual number of hunters in Spain.
Information published on hunting licenses in Spain
does not allow for a clear distinction to be made between
big-game hunters and small-game hunters. In some
Autonomous Communities, this distinction has been
attempted for the latest years of data available (e.g., in
Extremadura, Andalucía, Castilla-La-Mancha and Ba-
leares). For previous years, there is scattered informa-
tion on surcharges added to hunting licenses for hun-
ting with firearms. These surcharges indicate those
hunters that are interested in the most commercial
types of hunting (big-game hunting, small-game driving
hunting, e.g., ojeos, and waterfowl hunting) (MA 1973-
1981b; MAPA, 1982-1984; MAPA, 1985-1988). The
best information for ascertaining broad tendencies in
big-game and small-game hunting comes from the data
on hunting firearm licenses issued by the «Ministerio
de Interior», although these data are restricted to the
period 1994-2007. The «Ministerio de Interior» yearbook
provides data on the number of hunting firearm licen-
ses issued every year and distinguishes between
different types of firearms. There are two main types
of hunting gun licenses: (1) those for rifles and shot-
guns with rifled barrels used for big-game hunting
(armas rayada) and (2) those for smoothbore shotguns
and rimfire rifles, such as the .22 long rifle, that are
mostly used for small-game hunting. However, this
data also presents interpretation problems as shotguns
may also be used for wildboard hunting. Thus, distin-
guishing between both types of hunting, big-game or
small-game, by looking at the number of firearms
licenses is not so clear. Finally, it must also be conside-
red that having a hunting weapon license or certificate
does not necessarily indicate that the hunter is active
during that year.
Hunting grounds
Available information in the AEA (1973-2003) on
hunting grounds is incomplete. First, no information
is provided about the total area covered by hunting
grounds of common use. Second, although at the na-
tional scale there are data on the total area occupied
by the hunting grounds subject to special arrange-
ments, rarely is that information available at the pro-
vincial or Autonomous Community scale. An additio-
nal problem is that after 1988 (with the exception of
1992), coinciding with the transfer of legal competence
in the field of hunting to the Autonomous Communi-
ties, information about hunting grounds has not been
updated. As the Autonomous Communities began to
implement their own hunting legislation by the be-
ginning of the 1990s, they introduced new classifi-
cations of hunting grounds in their territories. Nowadays
the amount of hunting ground denominations in Spain
exceeds 40, a large increase from the ten denomina-
tions established in the previous national hunting legis-
lation (Ley 1/1970, de 4 de abril, de Caza and Decreto
506/1971, de 25 de marzo). The analysis of hunting
areas is further complicated because different hunting
ground denominations with the same hunting arrange-
ments have been found, as well as the opposite situation.
The classification of hunting grounds in the most
recent database of the AEF (2006 and 2007) already
takes into account the new types of terrain that have
appeared as a result of the enactment of the regional
legislation on hunting. However, the classification
adopted in the AEF is not entirely accurate. Thus, this
146 M. Martinez-Jauregui et al. / Forest Systems (2011) 20(1), 139-150
complex situation should be clarified by developing a
means of clarifying the relationships among all of the
different types of hunting ground denominations
currently existing in the country.
Apart from conceptual problems derived from the
inadequate clustering of current hunting lands, it is im-
possible to combine the former hunting ground data
(that existed before the transfer of legal responsibility
for hunting to the Autonomous Communities) with new
data (available in AEF). This is because some of the
new hunting ground denominations in some Autono-
mous Communities legislation encompass several of
the former national legislation denominations (Ley
1/1970, de 4 de abril, de Caza and Decreto 506/1971,
de 25 de marzo). For example, the current definition
of a private hunting state in Andalucía (coto privado
de caza) includes those areas classified in the former
national legislation under private, social, local and
national states.
One final problem that we detected is the lack of
data on hunting grounds for some Autonomous Commu-
nities or provinces in recent years. We identified this
problem in Galicia, Navarra and Almería in 2005, Va-
lencia and Navarra in 2006, and Toledo, Lugo, Ponte-
vedra and Vizcaya in 2007.
Harvest estimates
Until 2005, harvest estimates of game animals in
Spain were only specified for deer, wild boar, hare,
rabbit, partridge, and quail, as they were the main game
species in the country at the beginning of the seventies.
Harvests of other game species appeared grouped
under designations such as «other big-game», «other
game smaller mammals» and «other game birds». This
has been an important limitation because in the period
1972-2003, other species as roe deer or Spanish ibex
gained greater economic and social importance in Spain.
Although separate harvest information is now provided
for a larger number of game species, data at national
scale provided in the AEF appear to be reliable only
for 2005, as in the two following years important errors
have been identified. For example, in 2006 there was
a lack of data on game animals shot in the Autonomous
Community of Andalucía, one of the most relevant
hunting communities in the country. Harvest figures
for Andalucía from 2006 were apparently added to next
year’s harvest figures in the 2007 edition of AEF. Another
statistical limitation regarding game species is the lack
of demographic information concerning big-game ani-
mals. Information about the percentage of males, fema-
les and calves shot is provided in the official hunting
statistics in other European countries such as the Na-
tional Office of the Chasse et Faune Sauvage of France
or the Hungarian Game Management Database in Hun-
gary (Milner et al., 2006). The cost of compiling this
information in Spain should be low; every Autonomous
Community already has access to this information
because a mandatory report of harvest is required to
manage hunting grounds.
Regarding other variables that characterized game
animals, we found that carcass weight is heterogeneous
between provinces and often varies greatly in certain
years. For example, in 2005 low big-game carcass weight
values could not be justified by unfavorable weather
conditions.
Information about the quality (size and beauty) of
big-game trophies is published regularly in the national
catalogues of game trophies. However, trophy evalua-
tion is a voluntary formality on the part of hunters, so
not all of the trophies of high quality are necessarily
evaluated and recorded. On the other hand, a positive
feature of trophy statistics is that they include all big-
game hunting species.
The value of game meat recorded in the official
Spanish statistics refers to the value at the hunting
ground level of the meat from game animals shot. It is
not clear whether the figures provided exclude the meat
from game animals shot and used for self-consump-
tion. In addition, it is unknown if the price attached to
each kilogram of meat is a real market price or a price
estimated by expert staff, although it seems more likely
to be the latter. Anomalies found in the carcass weight
statistics (already explained above) may also affect
game meat value data.
As mentioned in the previous section, the concept
of game-complementary revenues in the official Spa-
nish hunting statistics refers to an «estimate for the
income received by the hunting use of land, excluding
the value of shot animals». Bernabeu (2002) states that
the value of game-complementary revenues is suppo-
sed to be an indicator of the supplementary income
that a landowner derives from the hunting practiced on
his or her land, as estimated at the provincial level by
expert staff. However, the scheme to collect this infor-
mation and the methodology used to calculate the reve-
nues is not provided. As with the value of game meat,
it is not possible to identify whether this variable is
limited to the income derived from commercial hunting
Understanding long-term hunting statistics: the case of Spain (1972-2007) 147
or also includes an estimate of the utility derived from
non-commercial hunting. Regardless of conceptual
problems, caution should be taken when using data for
game-complementary revenues at the national scale
because the total figures do not always include the data
from all the Autonomous Communities. For example,
in 1988 data from 18 provinces were missing, and in
2002, the number of provinces that did not provide data
increased to 38.
Over time, there have been significant changes in
the classification and grouping of products covered by
the Spanish foreign trade statistics. Thus it is not an easy
task to track foreign trade in game meat for any parti-
cular game species, or even to clearly distinguish between
the big-game and small-game meat trades. A detailed
analysis of foreign trade statistics would be required
to understand the meaning of changing foreign nomen-
clatures so that a sound correspondence could be esta-
blished with individual or groups of game species.
Conclusions
Hunting statistics are an essential analytical tool for
understanding the economic, ecological and social rea-
lity of the hunting sector. However, results from the
present study for Spain indicate that hunting data
available in the official statistics are often incomplete,
dispersed and heterogeneous. Therefore, although they
are useful for analytical purposes, Spanish hunting sta-
tistics must be used with caution, and a critical stance
must be adopted in their interpretation.
Besides the problems associated with the initial
degree of incompleteness of the data being collected,
the use of Spanish hunting statistics faces an additional
difficulty. Since the transfer of responsibilities for the
regulation of hunting to the Autonomous Communities
took place during the 1980s, data collection on hunting
has been subject to qualitative changes in the defini-
tions of important concepts and variables previously
collected. This suggests that, to correctly interpret the
official hunting statistics in certain countries over time
and space, it may be necessarily to also consider politi-
cal and legislative changes. In the case of Spain, the
classification of hunting grounds changed drastically
in some Autonomous Communities after the transfer
of responsibilities for the regulation of hunting and the
enactment of different laws relevant to hunting at the
regional level. To mitigate the problems arising from
heterogeneous collection procedures of the official sta-
tistics, it is recommended that communication among
the Autonomous Communities and the Central Govern-
ment be improved and an agreed-upon common scheme
for data collection be established. This protocol should
be in accordance with future European hunting statis-
tics and based on robust and well-informed data collec-
tion methods.
In addition, as it has already been suggested by other
authors (Naredo, 1983), official statistics should in-
clude modifications and adaptations of biological, eco-
logical and economic concepts to cover transforma-
tions experienced by the hunting sector over time. We
suggest therefore that the methodology for the collec-
tion of data should be dynamic and adaptable to new
situations in the hunting sector. For example, due to
the increasing economic and ecological importance of
hunting in recent decades, it should be of great interest
to improve economic and environmental data related
to the hunting sector. However, as far as possible, any
changes in the data collected should be able to allow
for comparisons to be made between new variables and
previous ones.
Spanish hunting statistics also present more specific
shortcomings. Some of these limitations could be re-
medied without too much difficulty in the near future.
A major weakness of official statistics of hunting in
Spain is the lack of definitions for concepts and va-
riables and the lack of information on the procedures
for the calculation of statistics, data sources, sampling,
collection of data, control and revision, estimation, etc.
Therefore, we suggest that this information is provided
to potential users. Another possible improvement is to
enlarge the number of variables collected and parti-
cularly to provide the demographic composition of big-
game data, which is essential to track changes in popu-
lations over time, and the realization of a tighter econo-
mic valuation. In addition, it is suggested that a hunter
census should be developed to allow for a precise quan-
tification of the national hunting demand. It is also
necessary to develop a new classification scheme for
hunting grounds according to the new concepts and
definitions provided by the regional hunting laws indi-
cating the correspondence among the different desig-
nations of hunting grounds adopted in each Autono-
mous Community. Finally, it would also be of interest
to modify the nomenclature of game meat items
considered in the statistics of foreign trade to be able
to distinguish between foreign meat transactions of
different game species and groups of species, as is the
case, for example, in livestock.
148 M. Martinez-Jauregui et al. / Forest Systems (2011) 20(1), 139-150
Acknowlegments
We thank Roberto Vallejo and the staff of Banco de
Datos de la Naturaleza (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente
y Medio Rural y Marino) and two anonymous referees
for their comments.
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Scattered oaks in traditional silvopastoral systems (i.e., “dehesas”) provide important ecological services. However, livestock intensification applied to these systems over the last century has affected the architecture of young oak plants. This unsuitable rangeland management practice jeopardizes the long-term system sustainability. Here we examine the alterations in architecture of regenerating oak plants in Mediterranean dehesas under three representative management regimes: (1) traditional management with extensive sheep grazing; (2) commercially driven management with extensive cattle grazing, and (3) native deer grazing at moderate stocking rates (<0.11 livestock units × ha-1). Plant architecture was considerably altered in cattle-grazed “dehesas”, finding a 50% reduction in plant height–diameter ratios, compared to sheep-grazed dehesas where plants with higher height–diameter ratios predominated. Young oak plants, however, showed less altered architecture and less probability of damage on shoot apex (0.20-fold difference) in areas with deer grazing at moderate stocking rates. In addition, those young oak plants with multi-stemmed individual architecture were more stunted (lower values of crown height–diameter ratio) in areas with livestock grazing than wildlife areas (0.78-fold difference). Shrub presence, under all management schemes, helped to increase in plant height, except when shrubs were located under tree canopies. Conversely, plants without shrub protection showed stunted architecture with well-developed basal diameters but short stature. Appropriate sustainable practices should include cattle stocking rate reduction, traditional sheep grazing promotion, nurse shrub preservation and fencing stunted individuals along with pruning basal sprouts. Our study indicates that management may have important consequences on dehesa regeneration via alterations of plant architecture and therefore on system sustainability.
... This means that information about both the state of the resource (i.e., game abundance and demographic data) and harvest levels (i.e., harvest data) are essential to assess whether hunting is sustainable or not (Milner-Gulland et al., 2009). However, high levels of uncertainty over harvest rates (Milner-Gulland et al., 2010) are a consequence of several factors including inaccurate information on game abundance and/or a lack of information on demographic parameters, failures in the collection of hunting bag statistics (Hirschfeld and Heyd, 2005;Martínez-Jauregui et al., 2011;Moreno-Zarate et al., 2021), the existence of illegal (and thus non-reported) hunting (Brochet et al., 2016) and large spatial-temporal variation in harvest (e.g., Blanco-Aguiar et al., 2008;Willebrand et al., 2011). The importance of addressing the individual components of resource use (e.g., when, where and how game is taken) in addition to the overall level of extraction, has been highlighted in order to better understand the sustainability of hunting (Milner-Gulland et al., 2010;Bunnefeld et al., 2011). ...
Article
Designing evidence-based policies that regulate harvest levels is essential to avoid unsustainable hunting. This requires a good understanding of the relationship between bag sizes and regulatory mechanisms of harvest, and particularly of how these mechanisms are implemented locally and how they vary between game estates. The European Turtle-dove (Streptopelia turtur) has decreased by 30-49% since the late 1990s. The three main identified threats for the species are habitat loss, illegal killing and unsustainable legal hunting. We assessed how turtle dove estate-level harvest varies in relation to hunter density, number of hunting days, the adopted hunting method, game management intensity and the economic investment of the estate. Additionally, we assessed whether estate-level harvest had declined concomitantly with the population decline, and whether trends had been similar in relation to hunting method. We analysed Hunting Management Plans and Annual Hunting Reports of several thousand estates in central Spain, one of the main breeding and hunting areas of the species. Annual estate harvest was positively associated with hunter density, and was higher on estates that offered fixed-position hunting compared to those that only provided walked-up shooting. Importantly, these decisions are made by managers at the estate level and are not directly regulated by policy. We also found that more turtle doves are harvested on estates that invest more money in management, suggesting that the socioeconomic characteristics of the estate also influence local decisions on harvest intensity. Average annual estate-level harvest declined by 27% between 2007 and 2018, accompanied by a switch from fixed-position to walked-up hunting practices. Our study indicates that reducing hunting density or the number of fixed-position hunting days may be the most efficient ways to reduce turtle dove harvest, and that factors influencing estate-level decision-making have to be understood if reduction of hunting pressure in declining species is sought.
Technical Report
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The aim of deliverable D3.1 was to make an initial introductory review of research projects and the wider literature on the topic of mixed farming in Europe, to use as a go-to resource for the further work in the MIXED Project and parallel research projects. A literature review covering a large and broad topic such as ‘mixed farming systems’ is challenging, and the report makes recommendations towards a narrower discipline focused literature search approach. As a research field, mixed farming has increased significantly since 2015 and with a noteworthy leap since 2018. Most of the funding towards mixed farming research is provided by the European Commission and 80% of the research is carried out by 6 countries alone. The data obtained from the literature search shows that agroforestry and mixed farming approaches, which incorporate trees and bushes, hold most of the data. The projects identified within the report also show an overrepresentation of an agroforestry focus and especially research focusing on energy-crops is wanting. The project identification has, however, been supported by project partners and stakeholders, which may have caused a bias in the data. Twenty-two projects were discarded from the analysis, due to not disseminating their research in English. All were from France, which highlights a potential barrier for knowledgebase sharing.
Article
Wildlife management regulations for exploited species often aim to manipulate harvest levels in order to avoid unsustainable levels of exploitation. For such regulations to be effective the size of the harvest needs to respond to changes in those regulatory measures. The European turtle-dove is a widespread migratory quarry species of conservation concern for which recent levels of hunting in Western Europe are considered unsustainable. We describe temporal and spatial variation in the hunting of this species across Spain, the country with the largest harvest in Europe, after reducing biases inherent in the official Government statistics. We also assess whether changes in hunting policy regulations (the number of permitted hunting days, the start date of the hunting season and daily quotas imposed on hunters) have been effective in limiting the numbers of turtle doves harvested. Official national government harvest statistics underestimated harvest reported by hunters by an average of 38% during 2007-2009 due to information gaps and underreporting, but this problem subsequently declined and was negligible by 2017. The density of shot birds was highest in the southwest of the country. None of the three regulatory measures had any detectable impact on reported provincial harvest, indicating that the main policy mechanisms employed by the Spanish hunting authorities to manage hunting have been ineffective. Our findings highlight the continued need of accurate measures of harvest and of developing and deploying effective means of managing the harvest of quarry species, especially those with unfavorable conservation status.
Conference Paper
Halting the decline of the European turtle dove is one of the great current challenges of sustainable hunting and conservation. In declining game species it is essential to have a good knowledge about their population parameters and the hunting pressure they are being subjected to. Recent analyses suggest that the current levels of European turtle dove hunting are unsustainable. For this reason, implementing measures to regulate hunting in Spain to avoid overexploitation of the species is especially relevant. Evaluating the effectiveness of hunting regulatory tools is fundamental to be able to estimate their impact and therefore their validity to achieve the proposed objectives. We analysed the effectiveness of the measures implemented in some autonomous communities to reduce the number of turtle doves hunted, such as the application of quotas (number of turtle doves / hunter / day, including a more restrictive one in 2017 generalized to all regions), the reduction in the total number of hunting days or the number of hunting weekends in the season. We used mixed generalized linear models to compare catches at the provincial level between 2007 and 2017 with each regulation variable. Our results show no decrease in the number of turtle doves hunted at the provincial level associated with any of the hunting regulation measures. This may be due to the ineffectiveness of the measures themselves, to them not being adequately applied, or to official hunting capture data not being reliable. These results emphasize the importance of monitoring the management measures, as well as the urgency of finding appropriate measures to control hunting and conservation of the European turtle dove.
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According to the official data about the holders of hunting licenses and hunting areas provided by the hunting service of the Local Development Department - Consell de Mallorca, a detailed study is carried out on the social and territorial implications of the hunting activity on the island. Firstly, the spatial distribution, age, gender, type of license and origin of the hunters are analysed and, secondly, the category, location and extension of the hunting and non-hunting areas are examined. Administrative boundaries are used as a reference and depending on the hunting land area index per person, a categorization is established in municipalities that are requesting, bidding for or are balanced in terms of hunting spaces. Finally, the hunting situation is evaluated, which is currently conditioned by changes in land use and social questioning about the activity. In this sense, hunting planning is fundamental.
Thesis
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The main line of investigation of this thesis centres on research into and the development of biological models for populations of wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758), a widespread terrestrial mammal that acts as a potential host and reservoir for many swine diseases, such as Classical Swine Fever, Aujeszky disease, Food and Mouth Disease or Brucellosis. These models concentrate on African Swine Fever (ASF), a disease of mandatory notification of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that is one of the most complex and significant from a sanitary-economic perspective of all maladies affecting the world’s pig-farming industry. Since its appearance in Georgia in 2007, the rapid spread of the ASF virus (ASFV) through Eastern Europe, coupled with the failure to prevent its spread and its reappearance in EU countries in 2014, has meant that the global sanitary alert level for this virus has had to be raised. Wild boar seem to have played an active role in the ASF epidemic in Eastern Europe and are known to be one of the factors behind the persistence of this disease in endemic areas (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine) and its introduction and local spread in UE countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland). Thus, EU countries are now having to face up to a novel epidemiological situation and the challenge of halting the spread of ASF, a disease that until relatively recently had been somewhat overlooked. Three main entry routes for ASFV into disease-free countries are envisaged, of which the most difficult to control is its spread due to the natural movements of wild boar, an animal that knows no barely barriers or political frontiers. Knowledge of the large-scale distribution of wild boar – information that was not available when this thesis was begun – will be essential if effective programmes for preventing, monitoring and controlling the spread of ASF are to be implemented. To anticipate the distribution of the disease on a broad scale, veterinary epidemiology must begin to use tools from a biological standpoint that are based on geographical ecology and up-to-date data sources. Today, the evolution of Geographical Information Systems, technical advances in teledetection platforms capable of handling large quantities of environmental information (climate, topography, plant cover, etc.) and the development of applied statistical techniques all provide a solid base for estimating the distribution of this species. In this thesis I thus attempt to use and expand the possibilities offered by species distribution models in order to respond to some of the problems currently arising in veterinary epidemiology.########################################################################################## LARGE: The main line of investigation of this thesis centres on research into and the development of biological models for populations of wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758), a widespread terrestrial mammal that acts as a potential host and reservoir for many swine diseases, such as Classical Swine Fever, Aujeszky disease, Food and Mouth Disease or Brucellosis. These models concentrate on African Swine Fever (ASF), a disease of mandatory notification of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that is one of the most complex and significant from a sanitary-economic perspective of all maladies affecting the world’s pig-farming industry. Since its appearance in Georgia in 2007, the rapid spread of the ASF virus (ASFV) through Eastern Europe, coupled with the failure to prevent its spread and its reappearance in EU countries in 2014, has meant that the global sanitary alert level for this virus has had to be raised. Wild boar seem to have played an active role in the ASF epidemic in Eastern Europe and are known to be one of the factors behind the persistence of this disease in endemic areas (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine) and its introduction and local spread in UE countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland). Thus, EU countries are now having to face up to a novel epidemiological situation and the challenge of halting the spread of ASF, a disease that until relatively recently had been somewhat overlooked. Three main entry routes for ASFV into disease-free countries are envisaged, of which the most difficult to control is its spread due to the natural movements of wild boar, an animal that knows no barely barriers or political frontiers. Knowledge of the large-scale distribution of wild boar – information that was not available when this thesis was begun – will be essential if effective programmes for preventing, monitoring and controlling the spread of ASF are to be implemented. To anticipate the distribution of the disease on a broad scale, veterinary epidemiology must begin to use tools from a biological standpoint that are based on geographical ecology and up-to-date data sources. Today, the evolution of Geographical Information Systems, technical advances in teledetection platforms capable of handling large quantities of environmental information (climate, topography, plant cover, etc.) and the development of applied statistical techniques all provide a solid base for estimating the distribution of this species. In this thesis I thus attempt to use and expand the possibilities offered by species distribution models in order to respond to some of the problems currently arising in veterinary epidemiology. This doctoral thesis – "Biological models applied to animal health" – develops and provides cartographic models and tools at scales that will be useful for predicting wild boar distribution. This will help improve both prevention and monitoring systems based on risk analysis, as well as the ASF control programmes currently underway in Eurasia. To control ASF and implement effective prevention it is vital to identify potential areas in which the disease could appear as a means of guiding future research and providing up-to-date information for health policies and the design of prevention campaigns. This task began at national level with the development and evaluation of various models generated for the Iberian Peninsula (IP) that are also applicable at both UE and Eurasian scales. These models, which form part of the first objective of this thesis, have been validated using records of wild boar presence taken from numerous sources, as well as notifications of swine disease published by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) and veterinary services in affected countries. This thesis includes fives scientific articles published in international reviews that describe the models used for evaluating the risk that wild boar will introduce ASFV into ASF-free EU countries and for identifying possible risk scenarios for the transmission of ASF in the pig-boar interface in Eurasia. These studies are part of objective 2. Four approaches on the distribution of wild boar were used in the first objective, in which various models and mapping tools were developed at different scale. Firstly, a deterministic analytic model was created for the IP based on hunting bags (as an indicator of population levels) and on the vegetation (CORINE land-use classification) that provides the species with food and shelter. This enabled us to estimate and map the distribution, ideal habitat and density of wild boars in the IP: the average density of wild boar in Spain was estimated at 0.37/km2 (min. 0.02, max. 2.2), 0.13/km2 (min. 0.00048, max. 1.9) in Portugal and 0.31/km2 in the IP as a whole. Secondly, a probabilistic or stochastic model for Spain was developed that enabled us to predict the probability of occurrence of wild boar and to establish which environmental variables best predict the presence of the species. This model was developed using real presence data and a set of non-correlated environmental variables that take into account the species’ ecology (as limiting factors or as indicators via indirect relationships) and its spatial and seasonal fluctuations in Spain. On the basis of their percentage contribution to the model, six variables were found to predict wild boar distribution in Spain. Of special importance were the number of sunshine hours, rainfall seasonality, isothermality, the minimum temperature in the coldest month of the year, slope and total annual precipitation. This model describes the distribution of the species with great precision and highlights the areas where wild boar are most likely to occur in Spain. Thirdly, the deterministic analytic model was scaled up to EU level to estimate the boar’s European distribution and the surface area of ideal habitat, which was weighted in three categories. To avoid any over- or underestimates, only data referring to standardized vegetation cover was used in the scaling up; both the use of hunting bags (due to a lack of minimally consistent homogenous data from EU countries) and the probabilistic model (due to bias and the lack of precision in records of wild boar presence in the EU) were ruled out. This model was used in 2013 to evaluate the level of risk of the introduction of ASF into the EU as a result of natural wild boar dispersion. In 2015, the risk of introduction was updated for disease-free countries by improving the most important factor in the risk estimation: the presence of ideal wild boar habitat. This enhancement was achieved by incorporating agricultural areas – specifically, monocultures situated less than 2 km from the species’ natural habitats – into the model since this type of land cover has been shown to be of vital importance when identifying outbreaks of the disease. Agricultural land offers boars a great variety of seasonal resources in terms of both foraging opportunities and shelter. These areas are also where most direct and indirect contact between boars and domestic pigs take place. Six ideal habitat categories including agricultural areas used seasonally by wild boars were considered. The validity of these categories was evaluated via a comparison between these ideal habitats and biological data and data corresponding to 1451 records of ASF in boar in 2014 and 2015. The greatest number of notifications were from the most adequate habitat for the species. Nevertheless, 15% of notifications came from the agricultural category, that is, from monocultures less than 2 km from natural areas, a result that highlights the relevance of this type of land cover not only to the species’ ecology in general but also to the work required to halt the spread of ASF. Both risk evaluations are included in objective 2 of this thesis. Currently, ASF transmission occurs under a number of different epidemiological scenarios that involve both wild boar and domestic pigs; as such, the boar-pig interface should be considered as a vital element of risk. Thus, fourthly, to identify this interface and assist in predicting ASF infection dynamics in the EU and in non-EU Eastern European countries, a standardized map of the species’ distribution in Eurasia was generated using global vegetation cover (GLOBCOVER) to quantify the quality of available habitat (QAH) for wild boar. The EU deterministic model was adapted and given a new focus by the use of expert knowledge to classify wild boar habitat quality in Eurasia. This adaptation was necessary given the existence of a series of factors that were hampering attempts at conducting a large-scale extrapolation. One problem was caused by the fact that telemetric land-cover data (CORINE) is only available for EU countries and not for the remaining Eurasian countries. Moreover, data on land use are not directly comparable with the global vegetation cover (GLOBCOVER) since the latter employs different ways of classifying vegetation. Finally, both the scarcity of boar records and the heterogeneity of population data throughout the study area were hindering habitat characterization, thereby making it impossible to develop a good species distribution model. Thus, QAH for wild boar was assessed using expert opinion and a seven-level scale, which was closely correlated to the georeferenced records of boar presence: the greatest wild boar densities were found above all in areas with the two highest QAH levels, whilst the lowest densities were found in areas with the two lowest QAH levels. These results and evaluations confirm that the QAH map developed using expert opinion classifies in a robust fashion the suitability of wild boar habitat in the study area. The second objective was centred on two studies of the health management of ASF outbreaks that discussed the application of the models of wild boar habitat quality and suitability. In the first study, a semi-quantitative methodology was used to evaluate the risk in 2013 of the introduction of ASFV into the EU owing to natural wild boar dispersal. The results of the analysis determined that the countries with the greatest potential risk of entry of the disease were Poland and Finland, followed by Lithuania and Latvia. The two factors that had most weight in the final results were the presence of ideal boar habitat, followed by the density of ASF outbreaks in wild boar and domestic pigs. In spite of the efforts to prevent the appearance and propagation of ASF in the EU, the disease appeared in 2014 in the countries judged to be most at risk from an ASF outbreak. The 2014 outbreak was associated with numerous cases of ASF entry linked to wild boar movements from endemic areas, which thus increases even more the probability that the disease will spread to other EU member countries. In 2015 the relative risk of new outbreaks of ASF caused by wild boar in EU countries was updated using the same semi-quantitative model for veterinary monitoring. This update incorporates the most recent data and an improved version of the most important risk estimator: an optimized cartographic tool mapping wild boar distribution and the most suitable habitat for this species. The results underline the relatively high risk-values for Slovakia and Romania, followed by Finland, Czech Republic and Germany. Wild boar habitat is still the most important risk indicator, whilst the population density is less significant than before. This suggests that the quality and continuity of habitat (i.e. presence of wild boar) currently contribute more to the spread of the disease than the density of boar populations. The second practical study, the development of a standardized cartographic tool for boar QAH in Europe, identified scenarios with ASF transmission risk in the boar-pig interface. ASF notifications in 2007–2016 were plotted on the QAH map, which revealed that in endemic areas of the disease 60% of notifications were in domestic pigs in farms with low biosecurity, above all in agricultural landscapes, monocultures and agroforestry areas (levels QAH 1 and 1.75). By contrast, in the UE 95% of notifications of ASF were in wild boar in natural landscapes (level QAH 2), above all in broad-leaved woodland and mixed coniferous and broad-leaved woodland. Thus, the implications for the management of ASF in endemic areas and in the EU in general differ; special attention should be paid to the QAH scenarios to guarantee preventative action and the prompt detection of the disease. The results and methods developed in this thesis will help evaluate the risk of introduction of ASF into the EU by wild boars and will assist in reducing the risk of transmission to pig farms at the pig-boar interface. It is hoped that these advances, aside from increasing the potential for applying landscape connectivity models, will facilitate preventative action aimed at halting ASF entry due to wild boar into disease-free countries and guarantee more effective control of the disease in affected territories. The biological models for the wild boar developed in this thesis are also applicable to the management of other diseases shared by domestic pigs and wild boars; proof of this is the successful adaptation and transfer to regional, national and international levels that has been performed. ########################################################################################################## Summary reduced in Spanish: La línea argumental de esta tesis se va a centrar en el jabalí, un mamífero oportunista y ampliamente distribuido, que puede actuar como reservorio y hospedador de enfermedades compartidas con la ganadería de gran impacto en la sanidad animal. En la transmisión de enfermedades, la interfaz cerdo-jabalí va a jugar un papel fundamental pues en muchos casos los hábitats de ambos suidos se encuentran compartidos. La Peste porcina africana (PPA) es una enfermedad de declaración obligatoria de las más complejas y de mayor importancia sanitario-económica de entre todas las que pueden afectar a la industria porcina mundial. Desde la introducción del virus de PPA en Georgia (2007), su rápida difusión en el Este de Europa, el escaso éxito en su control y el resurgimiento en 2014 en países de la Unión Europea (UE), ha elevado el nivel de alerta sanitaria global frente al virus. El jabalí parece haber desempeñado un papel activo en la epidemia de la PPA en el Este Europa, al estar involucrado en el mantenimiento de la enfermedad en las zonas endémicas y en la introducción y difusión local dentro de los países del noreste de la UE. Esta tesis doctoral, titulada Modelos biológicos aplicados a la sanidad animal, tiene como objetivo desarrollar y proporcionar a una escala útil diferentes modelos y herramientas cartográficas sobre la distribución del jabalí para su aplicación a la gestión sanitaria de la PPA en Eurasia. En el primer objetivo se han desarrollado y evaluado distintos modelos de distribución del jabalí a diferentes escalas. En primer lugar, se realizó un modelo analítico determinístico en la Península Ibérica estimando la distribución, los hábitats idóneos y la densidad del jabalí. En segundo lugar, se desarrolló un modelo probabilístico o estocástico en España que permitió predecir la probabilidad de ocurrencia del jabalí. En tercer lugar, se escaló el modelo analítico determinista para la UE, estimando la distribución y el hábitat idóneo del jabalí. En cuarto y último lugar, se ha adaptado el modelo determinístico de la UE, a través del conocimiento de experto, para caracterizar un mapa de distribución estandarizado que cuantifica la calidad del hábitat disponible del jabalí en Eurasia. El segundo objetivo se centra en la aplicación de los modelos determinísticos de idoneidad y calidad de hábitat del jabalí en dos estudios para la gestión sanitaria de la PPA. En el primer estudio, se empleó una metodología semi-cuantitativa para evaluar el riesgo de introducción del virus de PPA en la UE a partir del movimiento de jabalíes; siendo validado por su introducción. El hábitat idóneo del jabalí fue el factor de riesgo más importante. De acuerdo con la situación epidemiológica actual, identifica el riesgo de introducción fundamentalmente en el sureste de la UE (Eslovaquia, Rumania, Republica Checa y Alemania). El riesgo de entrada en estos países está asociado tanto al avance geográfico de la enfermedad a través de las metapoblaciones de jabalíes, como a través de la transmisión de cerdo doméstico a las subpoblaciones de jabalíes desde las zonas no comunitarias a la UE. En el segundo estudio, la herramienta cartográfica estandarizada de la calidad del hábitat para el jabalí en Eurasia, ha permitido identificar escenarios de riesgo de transmisión de la PPA en la interfaz cerdo-jabalí. Las implicaciones para la gestión de la PPA son diferentes en áreas endémicas y en la UE, precisando un enfoque particular para garantizar la intervención preventiva y la detección temprana de la enfermedad. El trabajo aquí desarrollado comprende 5 artículos científicos publicados en revistas internacionales, en los que se incluyen los modelos que han servido de base para la gestión de la PPA. Estos estudios podrían ser de gran utilidad para el desarrollo de modelos de conectividad del paisaje que permitieran profundizar y mejorar los análisis actuales de difusión de PPA, así como de otras enfermedades compartidas entre el jabalí y el cerdo doméstico.
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Game management of red deer (Cervus elaphus) is the main economic use of land in many areas of mediterranean woodland (dehesas) in southwestern Iberia. During the last two decades many estates have been fenced to allow a more intensive management of deer populations with independence from the sourrounding areas. This use has generated new problems which claim for new solutions to make compatible the economic use of game populations and the conservation of the ecosystems where they live. The knowledge of the behavioural ecology of big game species, especially of red deer, has an important role in providing solutions for this intensive management. Here I review some of the main problems including transformation of the vegetal cover, food supplementation, population structure, culling criteria and genetical effects.
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Applied Ethology to management of red deer populations in south-western Iberian peninsula: game production and conservation.- Game management of red deer (Cervus elaphus) is the main economic use of land in many areas of mediterranean woodland (dehesas) in southwestern Iberia. During the last two decades many estates have been fenced to allow a more intensive management of deer populations with independence from the sourrounding areas. This use has generated new problems which claim for new solutions to make compatible the economic use of game populations and the conservation of the ecosystems where they live. The knowledge of the behavioural ecology of big game species, especially of red deer, has an important role in providing solutions for this intensive management. Here I review some of the main problems including transformation of the vegetal cover, food supplementation, population structure, culling criteria and genetical effects.
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Summary • Deer numbers have increased dramatically throughout Europe and North America over the last century, but empirical analyses of variation in harvesting and the influence of biological and cultural factors are lacking. • We examined trends in size and composition of red deer Cervus elaphus harvests over the last three to four decades in 11 European countries with contrasting deer productivity, management strategies and hunting traditions. • The harvest increased exponentially in all countries except Austria and Germany, where it was stable, and Poland, where it has declined in recent years. Harvest growth rates ranged from 0·009 in Austria to 0·075 in Sweden and depended on the management system and harvest composition, being negatively related to the proportion of females in the adult harvest. • Within four focal countries (France, Hungary, Norway and Scotland), there was considerable spatial variation in harvest growth rates. These tended to be higher in recently colonized areas than in traditional hunting areas and were often higher than the maximum possible population growth rate. Range expansion was an important component of the increase in total harvest in France and Scotland, but not in Hungary or Norway. • Harvest composition was available for seven countries, all of which showed a strong increase in the proportion of calves in the harvest. The sex ratio of the adult harvest was relatively stable, being strongly male-biased in Norway and marginally female-biased elsewhere. The proportion of males in the harvest was unrelated to trophy hunting objectives. • Synthesis and applications. Our study emphasizes that cultural aspects of management need to be accounted for, as well as biological factors, when interpreting the patterns of harvest growth and composition across Europe. Widespread sustained harvest growth has occurred, suggesting continued growth of deer populations with consequent social and economic impacts. Population control is therefore a major challenge for the future, currently hampered by inadequate population data and a decreasing number of hunters in some countries. Increasing the motivation of hunters to harvest female deer is one possible solution, although this may conflict with hunting traditions and economic considerations in some areas. Journal of Applied Ecology (2006) 43, 721–734 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2006.01183.x
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Deer have expanded their range and increased dramatically in abundance worldwide in recent decades. They inflict major economic losses in forestry, agriculture, and transportation and contribute to the transmission of several animal and human diseases. Their impact on natural ecosystems is also dramatic but less quantified. By foraging selectively, deer affect the growth and survival of many herb, shrub, and tree species, modifying patterns of relative abundance and vegetation dynamics. Cascading effects on other species extend to insects, birds, and other mammals. In forests, sustained overbrowsing reduces plant cover and diversity, alters nutrient and carbon cycling, and redirects succession to shift future overstory composition. Many of these simplified alternative states appear to be stable and difficult to reverse. Given the influence of deer on other organisms and natural processes, ecologists should actively participate in efforts to understand, monitor, and reduce the impact of deer on ecosystems.
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The red-legged partridge is a small game species widely hunted in southern Spain. Its commercial use has important socioeconomic effects in rural areas where other agrarian uses are of marginal importance. The aims of the present work were to identify areas in Andalusia (southern Spain) where game yields for the red-legged partridge reach high values and to establish the environmental and land use factors that determine them. We analysed 32,134 annual hunting reports (HRs) produced by 6,049 game estates during the hunting seasons 1993/1994 to 2001/2002 to estimate the average hunting yields of red-legged partridge in each Andalusian municipality (n=771). We modelled the favourability for obtaining good hunting yields using stepwise logistic regression on a set of climatic, topographical, land use and vegetation variables that were available as digital coverages or tabular data applied to municipalities. Good hunting yields occur mainly in plain areas located in the Guadalquivir valley, at the bottom of Betic Range and in the Betic depressions. Favourable areas are related to highly mechanised, low-elevation areas mainly dedicated to intensive dry crops. The most favourable areas predicted by our model are mainly located in the Guadalquivir valley.
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1. European rabbits are considered a keystone species in the Iberian Peninsula. Their populations have sharply declined over the past century, mainly due to habitat loss and the arrival of two viral diseases: myxomatosis in the 1950s and rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) at the end of the 1980s. For the conservation of the Iberian Mediterranean ecosystem, it is important to determine whether rabbit populations are recovering two decades after the RHD outbreak, and to identify the factors associated with population recovery. 2. Here, we review the current knowledge on recent rabbit population trends in the Iberian Peninsula and the factors associated with these trends. 3. Although most rabbit populations are still declining in the Iberian Peninsula, a few seem to have recovered. In general, positive trends have been recorded in species-friendly habitats characterized by non-fragmented landscapes, interspersed patches of Mediterranean scrubland, good pastures and/or crops, soft soils that are suitable for warren construction and a Mediterranean climate with relatively high rainfall. Additionally, rabbits seem to be recovering better in areas where management practices (e.g. low hunting pressure, habitat management and predator control) are applied to increase their numbers. 4. From these findings, it is possible to identify five broad objectives for rabbit conservation in the Iberian Peninsula. First, it is clearly necessary to establish a long-term programme for monitoring rabbit abundance and trends on a large scale. Second, the conservation and restoration of open Mediterranean scrubland should be a priority for stabilizing and maintaining existing healthy rabbit populations. Third, despite the lack of experimental evidence, management activities aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of both refuge and food should continue to be implemented. Fourth, legislation on the timing of the hunting season should be revisited following recommendations made by scientists. Finally, experimental approaches are required to investigate whether the control of generalist predators is a successful strategy to allow rabbit populations to recover.
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Summary1. Domestication is a process involving adaptations to man and the man-made environment. Semi-domestic animals are those for which humans have only partial control over breeding, mortality, space use and food supply, and that have not been greatly modified by artificial selection. They therefore appear more similar to their wild counterparts.2. The degree of domestication depends on the level of (i) human control over breeding, mortality, food supply, space use and thereby selection pressures; (ii) how much these differ from original states; and (iii) how strongly the phenotypic traits have been affected.3. Synthesis and applications. Both natural and sexual selection in man-made environments may differ, and some management actions move traits of hunted ungulates closer to those associated with a semi-domestic stage; depending on the harvest pressure and selectivity, fencing, artificial feeding and predator control. There is a trade-off between high productivity of hunted ungulate populations and retaining wild traits.