Behavioural patterns of free roaming wild boar in a spatiotemporal context

Dana Erdtmann, Oliver Keuling
PeerJ 2020, 8: e10409
Although the almost worldwide distributed wild boar Sus scrofa is a well-studied species, little is known about the behaviour of autochthonous, free living wild boar in a spatiotemporal context which can help to better understand wild boar in conflict terms with humans and to find solutions. The use of camera traps is a favourable and non-invasive method to study them. To observe natural behaviour, 60 camera traps were placed for three months in a state forest of 17.8 km2 in the region of the Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. In this area wild boar, roe deer, red deer, wolves and humans are common. The cameras recorded 20 s length video clips when animals passed the detection zone and could be triggered again immediately afterwards. In total 38 distinct behavioural elements were observed, which were assigned to one of seven behavioural categories. The occurrence of the behavioural categories per day was evaluated to compare their frequencies and see which are more essential than others. Generalised Additive Models were used to analyse the occurrence of each behaviour in relation to habitat and activity time. The results show that essential behavioural categories like foraging behaviour, locomotion and vigilance behaviour occurred more frequently than behaviour that "just" served for the well-being of wild boar. These three behavioural categories could be observed together mostly in the night in broad-leaved forests with a herb layer of 50-100%, comfort behaviour occurred mostly at the ponds in coniferous forest. It is also observable that the behavioural categories foraging and comfort behaviour alternated several times during the night which offers the hypothesis that foraging is mostly followed by comfort behaviour. These findings pave the way towards implementing effective control strategies in the wild and animal welfare in captivity.

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