Deer populations in Central Eastern Alps have undergone contrasting changes in density and geographic distribution in the last 10 years. Red deer population exploded in suitable limited areas, but maintained very low density at the margin of the distribution area. Roe deer, after a constant density increase and habitat recolonisation in the second half of the 20th century, in some areas suddenly decreased or kept on constant middle-low population densities. This context may require management actions, both in terms of density control and balanced population structure maintenance. A sensible strategic plan depends upon a accurate evaluation of the actual population density and demography. In this paper, we assessed the feasibility and efficacy of pellet group count with distance sampling as a density assessment methodology in two populations of red and roe deer, in divergent areas of the Alpine range. Red deer density was estimated in Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio (Trentino sector), while roe deer density was surveyed in Monte Bondone area (Trento Province), after a collaborative project between Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio (PNS) and Centro di Ecologia Alpina (CEA). Systematic grids of 120 line transects of 100m for PNS and 60 line transects of 200m for Monte Bondone were randomly over imposed to the study areas, for a total survey length (L0) of 12 km each. L0 was calculated by means of power analyses to allow a coefficient of variation (c.v.) of 10%. Transects were traced in the field with a wire and walked according to the decreasing altitudinal gradient along the maximum slope. Pellet groups were counted at sight distance and perpendicular distance from central line was measured. Data analyses were carried out by means of the programme Distance 5.0. A total of 5227 red deer pellet groups were counted in PNS, corresponding to a highly accurate density value (c.v.=8%). A total of 282 roe deer pellet groups were counted in Monte Bondone, leading to a less accurate density value (c.v.= 19.4%). Density values were compared either with other surveys carried out with different methodologies (i.e. mark-resight, spot light night census, infra-red distance sampling) or hunting bag estimates to account for precision, and were consistent in both cases. Pellet group counts with distance sampling proved its efficacy in high density population of red deer, particularly in areas where environmental constrains and the seasonal grouping behaviour of the species lead to a very strong concentration of individuals. The middle-low population density of roe deer and their more homogeneous distribution in the study area require labour intensive surveys to get particularly accurate density values. However, the possibility to statistically measure the accuracy of the density estimate of this elusive species may counterbalance the effort. The possible management application of the pellet group count with distance sampling to assess deer population is stressed.
|Citation:||Cagnacci, F.; Pedrotti, L.; Tagliabò, A.; Callovi, I. (2005). A new method for estimating deer is possibile: distance sampling and pellet group count. In: Stelvio Settanta: conservazione e gestione della fauna nelle aree protette: l’esempio del cervo, Rabbi, Italy. 8-9 settembre 2005. handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/20862|
|Organization unit:||Centre for Alpine Ecology # CEA_1993-2007|
|Authors:||Cagnacci, F.; Pedrotti, L.; Tagliabò, A.; Callovi, I.|
|Title:||A new method for estimating deer is possibile: distance sampling and pellet group count|
|Appears in Collections:||03 - Conference object|