Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1431–1447 | Cite as

Differential long-term impacts of a management control program of axis deer and wild boar in a protected area of north-eastern Argentina

  • Ricardo E. Gürtler
  • Lucía I. Rodríguez-Planes
  • Guillermo Gil
  • V. Martín Izquierdo
  • Marcelo Cavicchia
  • Aristóbulo Maranta
Original Paper


Exotic ungulates are among the top global invasive mammals and a threat to biodiversity. Axis deer (Axis axis) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) are of increasing concern in multiple regions. A management program reduced wild boar abundance and soil damage below target levels through controlled still shooting from watchtowers and dog-hunting performed by recreational hunters at El Palmar National Park, Argentina. Here we assess program impacts on axis deer over a 10-year period in which 2380 deer were dispatched, and document two largely unexpected outcomes: increasing axis deer abundance toward a plateau, and a strong inverse correlation between deer and wild boar numbers. Unlike the initial steep decline and subsequent stabilization of wild boar, deer abundance indexed by standardized catch-per-unit-effort increased at 37.6% per year over 0–5 years post-intervention (YPI) and stabilized from 7 YPI on when still-shooting effort averaged 948 hunting party-hours per quarter. Deer catch was non-linearly related to still-shooting effort. Timing of deer and boar catches did not differ significantly regardless of sex, season and YPI. Catch-per-unit-effort indices and nightly spotlight deer counts showed similarly increasing trends. The fraction of older adult deer declined over 0–4 YPI and remained stable thereafter. Sex ratios were consistently skewed toward males only among older adults. Failure to reduce deer abundance may be explained by several major processes: protracted exponential growth of the deer population after park invasion; deer regional expansion with increasing immigration; insufficient sex- and stage-biased hunting mortality, and competitor (and perhaps predator) release from wild boar.


Protected areas Invasion biology Sustainability Ungulate Population dynamics Wildlife management 



This management program is a collective undertaking nurtured by the untiring commitment of APN personnel to the conservation mission: A. Delaloye, E. Jones, J. Yone, G. Brossard, J. Ballay, A. Luggren, J. Zermathen, R. Antunez, E. Alzogaray, G. Gaillard, L. Rey, E. Francisconi, J. Colodro, C. Sosa, L. Loyza, J. Baliño, E. Munich, E. Bouvet, N. Abdala, V. Jones, L. Barrios Caro, N. Zermathen, M. Cardoso, L. Rivas, N. Ballay, A. Faure, E. Irazoqui, M. Camposano, P. Ramírez Llorens, V. Soley, L. Paton, F. Salusso, M. Antunez, V. Olivella, G. Schipani, volunteers and members of the Hunting Club for Conservation Tierra de Palmares. REG thanks the support of the park’s manager J. M. Hervás and advice provided by Jean-Pierre Dujardin, Sol Gaspe, María del Pilar Fernández and Nazareno Sobral Zotta. Weather data were kindly provided by Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. The participation of REG was supported by University of Buenos Aires and Fundación Bunge & Born. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish and preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10530_2017_1635_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)
10530_2017_1635_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Table S1 Multiple linear regression analysis of log-body length of axis deer culled by still shooting according to sex, season and year post-intervention in El Palmar, 2011–2015 (DOCX 15 kb)
10530_2017_1635_MOESM3_ESM.tif (512 kb)
Fig. S1 Annual mean minimum and maximum temperatures (A) and rainfall, including five-year moving averages (B) in El Palmar, 2006–2015. The horizontal line shows the decadal average (TIFF 511 kb)
10530_2017_1635_MOESM4_ESM.tif (181 kb)
Fig. S2 Relative abundance of brown brocket (Mazama gouazoubira) sighted in experimental strip transects in El Palmar, 2006–2015 (TIFF 181 kb)
10530_2017_1635_MOESM5_ESM.tif (183 kb)
Fig. S3 Log-standardized CPUE of axis deer (Axis axis) over successive quarterly periods (the first data point marked with a circle was excluded for parameter estimation) in El Palmar, 2006–2015 (TIFF 182 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo E. Gürtler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lucía I. Rodríguez-Planes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guillermo Gil
    • 3
  • V. Martín Izquierdo
    • 4
  • Marcelo Cavicchia
    • 3
  • Aristóbulo Maranta
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Eco-Epidemiology, Ciudad Universitaria, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto de Ecología, Genética y Evolución de Buenos Aires (IEGEBA), Ciudad UniversitariaConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas-Universidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Delegación Regional del Noreste Argentino, Administración de Parques NacionalesPuerto IguazúArgentina
  4. 4.Parque Nacional Los AlercesAdministración de Parques NacionalesVilla FutalaufquenArgentina
  5. 5.Parque Nacional El PalmarAdministración de Parques NacionalesUbajayArgentina

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