Drivers of ungulate behavior in the context of human-wildlife conflicts : The effects of food, fear and temperature on ungulate landscape use and impacts

Abstract: Ungulates inhabiting managed landscapes generate important ecosystem services. However, their landscape use may cause negative impacts on human land uses. Expanding ungulate populations in Europe lead to increased human-wildlife conflict, but is also perceived as positive by stakeholders that favor high ungulate numbers. Hence, there is a need for management strategies that consider both the positive and the negative impacts of ungulates, for example by managing their behavior in addition to numbers. In this thesis, I investigated how three key functional landscapes; the foodscape, the landscape of fear and the thermal landscape influenced ungulate landscape use and impacts. I also explored the role humans have in shaping these landscapes. I did this by using an array of methods: field inventories, landscape experiments, social data collection and GPS-data. I found that food, fear and temperature strongly influenced how ungulates used the landscape. In addition, I showed how humans shape the three functional landscapes, for example by changing the foodscape through crop planting or forestry activities, leading to consequences on ungulate impact on human land use. Finally, I found that crop damage was reduced by experimentally inducing fear. Hence, my thesis suggests that it is possible to steer ungulate behavior by managing these functional landscapes. My thesis highlights the importance of including behavioral drivers when managing ungulates and regarding the effects of humans on these drivers. I conclude that these drivers often interact with each other influencing ungulate behavior, and that there is a need for more holistic approaches looking across land use and landowner borders in order to efficiently manage ungulate communities in managed landscapes

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