, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 327-336

Factors affecting wild boar abundance across an environmental gradient in Spain

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Abstract

The recent Europe-wide increase in wild boarSus scrofa, Linnaeus, 1758 abundance is undoubtedly due to many different factors, the relative importance of which differs from region to region. In Aragón (northeastern Spain), wild boar enlarged its distribution area eight times in the 1990s as compared with the century before, occupying the whole region. We studied wild boar abundance along an environmental gradient in Aragón to determine which factors are most responsible for its variation. Relative abundance of wild boars was estimated by catch-effort methods in 134 hunting estates (sampling units) for 5 consecutive hunting seasons. To characterise the environmental conditions, we quantified landscape composition and structure, topographical factors and climatic factors. Hunting pressure indices were also calculated for our sampling units. The average wild boar catch per hunting activity and per 100 km2 ranged from 0.72 to 16.31. Our results suggest thatwild boar abundances are affected by landscape structure, mainly by landscape diversity. In addition, lowland arid agrosystems (characterized by high temperatures and open juniper woodlands with little food availability) constrain the abundance of wild boar populations in spite of their wide plasticity to colonize new habitats.

Associate Editor was Krzysztof Schmidt.