Trading fear for food in the Anthropocene: How ungulates cope with human disturbance in a multi-use, suburban ecosystem

Jolien Wevers, Julien Fattebert, Jim Casaer, Tom Artois, Natalie Beenaerts
Science of the Total Environment 2020 June 20, 741: 140369
Resource distribution, predation risk and disturbance in space and time can affect how animals use their environment. To date few studies have assessed the spatiotemporal trade-off between resource acquisition and avoidance of risks and human disturbance in small protected areas embedded in an urban matrix. A better understanding of the forage-safety trade-off in urban protected areas (UPA) is key to the design of evidence-based approaches to deal with the ever-increasing human-wildlife impacts typical of UPA. Herein, we analyzed camera trap data to evaluate how two ungulate species trade fear for food in a 60 km2 human-dominated UPA without natural predators. We found that wild boar (Sus scrofa) were predominantly active at night, while roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) showed a typical bimodal crepuscular activity pattern. Occupancy analysis indicated that deciduous forest and the presence of high seats for hunting played an important role in determining the space use of wild boar. For roe deer, we found indications that the presence of forest influenced space use, although the null model was retained among the top ranked models. Our results confirm that wild boar and roe deer are able to thrive in heavily human dominated landscapes characterized by intensive recreational use and hunting, such as protected areas embedded in an urban matrix.

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