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The influence of food and temperature on population density of wild boar Sus scrofa in the Thurgau (Switzerland)


Geisser, H; Reyer, H U (2005). The influence of food and temperature on population density of wild boar Sus scrofa in the Thurgau (Switzerland). Journal of Zoology, 267(1):89-96.

Abstract

During the last two decades, populations of the wild boar Sus scrofa in Europe have increased considerably and the species has spread into new areas over the entire continent. Because of the animals' impact on agriculture, livestock and biodiversity, and the resulting necessity of realistic management practices, we were interested in the key environmental factors responsible for this remarkable development. The study was based on data from the canton Thurgau, a region in north-eastern Switzerland. We used data on damage and hunting success to calculate a population density index and related it to eight variables describing ecological conditions, demography and hunting pressure (measured by the number of hunters) over a 25-year period. The analysis shows that the population increase correlates with higher than average winter and spring temperatures and improved food supply through more mast years and an increase in the area of maize cultivation. While favourable temperature conditions mainly reduce juvenile mortality, enhanced food availability is likely to boost reproductive success through younger age at first reproduction, larger litter size and earlier onset of oestrus within a season. Given this link between food and reproduction, supplemental feeding, a management practice recommended and very common all over Europe, should be reconsidered.

During the last two decades, populations of the wild boar Sus scrofa in Europe have increased considerably and the species has spread into new areas over the entire continent. Because of the animals' impact on agriculture, livestock and biodiversity, and the resulting necessity of realistic management practices, we were interested in the key environmental factors responsible for this remarkable development. The study was based on data from the canton Thurgau, a region in north-eastern Switzerland. We used data on damage and hunting success to calculate a population density index and related it to eight variables describing ecological conditions, demography and hunting pressure (measured by the number of hunters) over a 25-year period. The analysis shows that the population increase correlates with higher than average winter and spring temperatures and improved food supply through more mast years and an increase in the area of maize cultivation. While favourable temperature conditions mainly reduce juvenile mortality, enhanced food availability is likely to boost reproductive success through younger age at first reproduction, larger litter size and earlier onset of oestrus within a season. Given this link between food and reproduction, supplemental feeding, a management practice recommended and very common all over Europe, should be reconsidered.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:food availability, supplementary feeding, climate, population density, wild boar
Language:English
Date:2005
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0952-8369
Publisher DOI:10.1017/S095283690500734X
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-500

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