Population Ecology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 185–190 | Cite as

Landscape structure affects food quality of sika deer (Cervus nippon) evidenced by fecal nitrogen levels

  • Tadashi Miyashita
  • Maki Suzuki
  • Mayura Takada
  • Go Fujita
  • Keiji Ochiai
  • Masahiko Asada
Original Article

Abstract

Evaluating the quality of wildlife habitat is essential for understanding and predicting population dynamics in heterogeneous environments. We used fecal nitrogen levels as an indicator of habitat quality of sika deer (Cervus nippon) and explored important landscape elements influencing nitrogen levels, taking deer density into account. We established 92 plots differing in deer density and landscape structure on the Boso Peninsula, central Japan, and collected fecal samples along a 1-km transect at each plot. The regression models involving two independent variables, i.e., deer density and the length of forest edge within an area of 100 or 200 m from the transect, were selected based on the Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC). Levels of fecal nitrogen were positively correlated with the length of the forest edge and negatively correlated with population density of deer. The area of 100 or 200 m from the transect most likely reflected the behavioral scale of the deer. Coverage of palatable understory vegetation increased with proximity to forest edge and decreased with deer density. Variability in the level of fecal nitrogen could thus be explained by food availability in the landscape. These results suggest that landscape alterations increase the carrying capacity of sika deer and thereby increase impacts upon the ecosystem.

Keywords

Forest edge Habitat heterogeneity Population density Habitat quality Ideal free distribution Ungulate 

References

  1. AlversonWS, Waller DM, Solheim SL (1988) Forests too deer: edge effects in Northern Wisconsin. Conserv Biol 2:348–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asada M, Ochiai K (1996) Food habits of sika deer on the Boso Penisula, central Japan. Ecol Res 11:89–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asada M, Ochiai K (1999) Nitrogen content in feces and the diet of Sika deer on the Boso Peninsula, central Japan. Ecol Res 14:249–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Chiba Prefecture (1998) Science report on the management of sika deer on Boso Peninsula 6. Chiba, Japan (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  6. Chiba Prefecture (2004) Science report on the management of sika deer on Boso Peninsula, Chiba, Japan (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  7. Coulson T, Albon S, Guiness F, Pemberton J, Clutton-Brock T (1997) Population substructure, local density, and calf winter survival in red deer (Cervus elaphus). Ecology 78:852–863Google Scholar
  8. Fretwell SD, Lucas HL (1970) On territorial behaviour and other factors influencing habitat distribution in birds. I. theoretical development. Acta Biotheor 19:16–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hanley TA, Robbins CT, Hagerman AE, McArthur C (1992) Predicting digestible protein and digestible dry matter in tannin containing forages consumed by ruminants. Ecology 73:537–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation ecology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Hemami MR, Watkinson AR, Dolman PM (2005) Population densities and habitat associations of introduced muntjac Muntiacus reevesi and native roe deer Capreolus capreolus in a lowland pine forest. For Ecol Manage 215:224–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Holt R (1985) Population dynamics in two-patch environments: some anomalous consequences of an optimal habitat distribution. Theor Popul Biol 28:181–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kabaya H (2001) Effects of large mammals on vegetation. In: Chiba Prefecture (ed) Natural history in Chiba Prefecture No. 5. Chiba Prefecture, Chiba, pp 629–638 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  14. Kay RNB (1985) Body size, patterns of growth, and efficiency of production in red deer. In: Fennessy PF, Drew KR (eds) Biology of deer production, R Soc NZ Bull 22:411–422Google Scholar
  15. Kie JG, Bowyer RT, Nicholson MC, Boroski BB, Loft ER (2002) Landscape heterogeneity at differing scales: effects on spatial distribution of mule deer. Ecology 83:530–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kirchhoff MD (1983) Black-tailed deer use in relation to forest clear-cut edges in southeastern Alaska. J Wildl Manage 47:497–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kremsater LL, Bunnell FL (1992) Testing responses to forest edges: the example of black-tailed deer. Can J Zool 70:2426–2435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leslie D, Starkey EE (1985) Fecal indicies to dietary quality of cervids in old-growth forests. J Wildl Manage 49:142–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lloyd AN (1995) The coupled logistic map: a simple model for the effects of spatial heterogeneity on population dynamics. J Theor Biol 173:217–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McShea WJ, Underwood HB, Rappole JH (1997) Deer management and the concept of overabundance. In: McShea (ed) The science of overabundance. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  21. Ministry of the Environment (2004) Japan Integrated Biodiversity Information System (J-IBIS). http://www.biodic.go.jp/index_e.html
  22. Miyashita T, Takada M, Shimazaki A (2004) Indirect effects of herbivory by deer reduce abundance and species richness of web spiders. Ecoscience 11:74–79Google Scholar
  23. O’Neill RV (1989) Perspectives in hierarchy and scale. In: Roughgarden J (ed) Perspectives in ecological theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 140–156Google Scholar
  24. Palmer SCF, Hester AJ, Elston DA, Gordon IJ, Hartley SE (2003) The perils of having tasty neighbors:grazing impacts of large herbivores at vegetation boundaries. Ecology 84:2877–2890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Parker KL (2003) Advances in the nutritional ecology of cervids at different scales. Ecoscience 10:395–411Google Scholar
  26. Parker KL, Gillingham MP, Hanley TA, Robbins CT (1999) Energy and protein balance of free-ranging black-tailed deer in a natural forest environment. Wildl Monogr 143:1–48Google Scholar
  27. Quinn GP, Keough MJ (2002) Experimental design and data analysis for biologists. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Robbins CT, Hanley TA, Hagerman AE, Hjeljord O, Barker DL, Schwartz CC, Mautz WW (1987) Role of tannins in defending plants against ruminants: reduction in protein availability. Ecology 68:98–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Roloff GJ, Kernohan BJ (1999) Evaluating reliability of habitat suitability index models. Wildl Soc Bull 27:973–985Google Scholar
  30. Said S, Servanty S (2005) The influence of landscape structure on female roe deer home-range size. Land Ecol 20:1003–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sinclair ARE (1997) Carrying capacity and the overabundance of deer: a framework for management. In: McShea (ed) The science of overabundance. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, pp 380–394Google Scholar
  32. Takada M, Asada M, Miyashita T (2002) Cross-habitat foraging by sika deer influences plant community structure in a forest–grassland landscape. Oecologia 133:389–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Takatsuki S (1978) Precision of fecal analysis: a feeding experiment with penned sika deer (in Japanese). J Mamm Soc Japan 7:167–180Google Scholar
  34. United States Fish, Wildlife Service (1981) Standards for the development of habitat suitability index models. United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Release No. 1–81, 103 ESMGoogle Scholar
  35. Van Horne B (1983) Density as a misleading indicator of habitat quality. J Wildl Manage 47:893–901CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wahlström LK, Kjellander P (1995) Ideal free distribution and natal dispersal in female roe deer. Oecologia 103:302–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xu C, Boyce MS, Gadil M, Nanjundiah V (2005) Forecasting spatially structured populations: the role of dispersal and scale. J Theor Biol 233:177–189PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tadashi Miyashita
    • 1
  • Maki Suzuki
    • 1
  • Mayura Takada
    • 1
  • Go Fujita
    • 1
  • Keiji Ochiai
    • 2
  • Masahiko Asada
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biodiversity Science, School of Agriculture and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Natural History Museum and InstituteChibaJapan

Personalised recommendations