Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 2049–2059 | Cite as

Impact of Red Deer Cervus elaphus Grazing on Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus and Composition of Ground Beetle (Coleoptera, Carabidae) Assemblage

  • Claudia MelisEmail author
  • Astrid Buset
  • Per Arild Aarrestad
  • Oddvar Hanssen
  • Erling L. Meisingset
  • Reidar Andersen
  • Arne Moksnes
  • Eivin Røskaft


We studied the role of red deer Cervus elaphus L. as ecosystem modifier in boreal forest (Tingvoll municipality, 62°52′ N, 8°20′ E, Norway), during early summer of 2001. The effect of grazing by red deer on ground beetles (Carabidae) abundance and diversity was investigated across a gradient of grazing pressures. We trapped ground beetles by pit-fall traps from three homogeneous winter grazing areas (ungrazed, medium grazed, heavily grazed). Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus (the main winter food for red deer) was sampled and its dry weight was measured for the three locations. Gradient analyses showed that grazing by red deer affects carabid species composition. Grazing significantly affected the amount of bilberry, which correlated with species variation. According to our predictions, we found a higher abundance of carabids in the heavily grazed location, but the species richness and the diversity indices were similar for the three areas. This study shows that overall species composition is altered along a gradient as consequence of red deer winter grazing and that red deer act as ecosystem engineer, by reducing the bilberry heather which dominates the field layer in early summer.


Boreal forest Carabidae Ecosystem engineer Grazing Norway Red deer 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Melis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Astrid Buset
    • 1
  • Per Arild Aarrestad
    • 2
  • Oddvar Hanssen
    • 2
  • Erling L. Meisingset
    • 3
  • Reidar Andersen
    • 1
  • Arne Moksnes
    • 1
  • Eivin Røskaft
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Centre for Ecological Agriculture, Tingvoll gardTingvollNorway

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