European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 19–24 | Cite as

The disappearance of muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) pellet groups in a pine forest of lowland England

  • Mahmoud R. Hemami
  • Paul M. Dolman
Original Paper


Reliable knowledge of the disappearance rate of faecal pellets is essential for converting pellet density to deer density when using standing-crop pellet-group counts. Disappearance of muntjac and roe deer pellet groups was monitored in four growth stages of a pine forest of lowland England over a 15-month period. Time to disappearance of the pellet groups (days) of both species significantly differed between habitats and months; it was shorter in late summer to early autumn and in habitats with more ground vegetation. Muntjac pellet groups disappeared more quickly than roe deer pellet groups. Time to disappearance of roe deer pellet groups was negatively correlated with air and grass temperature in pre-thicket and pre-fell habitats, while time to disappearance of muntjac pellet groups was negatively correlated with frequency of rainfall and positively correlated with the run of wind (air passage over a site within a 24-h period measured in km) in pre-thicket habitats. It is the time of the standing-crop pellet-group counts and the disappearance rate of pellet groups deposited in different months and habitats that determine the appropriate method for conversion of pellet-group density to deer density.


Faecal-pellet decay Weather factors Pellet-group counts Deer density estimation 



Mahmoud R. Hemami was funded by the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. We are grateful to Forest Enterprise for permission to work in Thetford Forest, Andrew Watkinson for his helpful suggestions over the period of the study, Norma Chapman for her editorial comments, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on an earlier draft. This experiment complies with the current laws of Great Britain.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural ResourcesIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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