Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Wild red deer contribute to the preservation of open landscapes



Date:  May 9, 2019
Source:  University of Göttingen
Similar to farm animals such as cattle or sheep, wild red deer grazing in open landscapes can also contribute to the conservation of protected habitats. This was demonstrated by a research team from the University of Göttingen and the Institute for Wildlife Biology of Göttingen and Dresden. The results were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
The interdisciplinary research team, which involved the Divisions of Grassland Science and Wildlife Sciences of the University of Göttingen, conducted research over a period of three years at the Grafenwöhr Training Area, an army training base, in Bavaria. "This area is home not only to numerous protected habitats and rare species, but also to a large population of free-ranging red deer," says Friederike Riesch, PhD student in the Division of Grassland Science at the University of Göttingen and first author of the study. Since the animals are only hunted on a few days a year in the non-forested areas of the training area, they can use the grassland and heathland areas all day for foraging. The scientists recorded above-ground plant growth, forage quality and forage removal by red deer in protected grassland and heath habitats. The result: the proportion of plant growth eaten by wild red deer is comparable to that of extensive grazing by farm livestock.

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