, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 232-239

Inter-specific synchrony of two contrasting ungulates: wild boar (Sus scrofa) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)

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Abstract

Very few studies on ungulates address issues of inter-specific synchrony in population responses to environmental variation such as climate. Depending on whether annual variation in performance of ungulate populations is driven by direct or indirect (trophic) interactions, very different predictions regarding the pattern of inter-specific synchrony can be derived. We compared annual autumn body mass variation in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) from Poland over the period 1982–2002, and related this to variation in winter and summer climate and plant phenological development [the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), derived from satellites]. Roe deer fawns (∼1.3 kg increase from year 1982 to 2002) and yearlings both increased markedly in mass over years. There was also an increase for wild boar mass over years (∼4.2 kg increase for piglets from 1982 to 2002). Despite our failure to link annual body mass to spring or winter conditions or the NDVI, the body mass of roe deer and wild boar fluctuated in synchrony. As this was a field roe deer population, and since wild boar is an omnivore, we suggest this may be linked to annual variation and trends in crop structure (mainly rye). We urge future studies to take advantage of studying multiple species in order to gain further insight into processes of how climate affect ungulate populations.

Communicated by Jean-Michel Gaillard.