Climate, tree masting and spatial behaviour in wild boar (Sus scrofa L.): insight from a long-term study
Climate factors affect seed biomass production which in turn influences autumn wild boar spatial behaviour. Adaptive management strategies require an understanding of both masting and its influence on the behaviour of pulsed resource consumers like wild boar.
Pulsed resources ecosystem could be strongly affected by climate. Disantangling the role of climate on mast seeding allow to understand a seed consumer spatial behaviour to design proper wildlife and forest management strategies.
We investigated the relationship between mast seeding and climatic variables and we evaluated the influence of mast seeding on wild boar home range dynamics.
We analysed mast seeding as seed biomass production of three broadleaf tree species (Fagus sylvatica L., Quercus cerris L., Castanea sativa Mill.) in the northern Apennines. Next, we explored which climatic variables affected tree masting patterns and finally we tested the effect of both climate and seed biomass production on wild boar home range size.
Seed biomass production is partially regulated by climate; high precipitation in spring of the current year positively affects seed biomass production while summer precipitation of previous year has an opposite effect. Wild boar home range size is negatively correlated to seed biomass production, and the climate only partially contributes to determine wild boar spatial behaviour.
Climate factors influence mast seeding, and the negative correlation between wild boar home range and mast seeding should be taken into account for designing integrated, proactive hunting management.
KeywordsMasting Mast seeding Seed consumer Deciduous forests Hunting management Apennine forests
We thank all other participants of PRIN project who contributed in discussion and shared unpublished results giving important indication to improve first draft of this manuscript. We further acknowledge the Ufficio Territoriale per la Biodiversità for climate data supply and all students and field assistants for wild boar data collection. We thank John Gurnell for useful comments. Finally, we acknowledge the Editor and two anonymous Reviewers for their precious comments.
This work was partially supported by the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research (PRIN 2010-2011, 20108 TZKHC).
Compliance with ethical standards
Following the Italian law 157/92 on wildlife management, the authors acquired the permission of catching wild boars in 2002 and 2005 from the Regional Government of Tuscany.
Conflict of interest
There are no conflicts of interest and research integrity and ethical standards are maintained.
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