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Flooding as a cause of ungulate mortality in floodplain forests in Croatia

  • Damir Ugarković
  • Nikica Šprem
  • Nikolina Kelava UgarkovićEmail author
  • Milan Oršanić
Original Paper
  • 55 Downloads

Abstract

Floodplain forests with regular flooding regimes are the largest natural retentions areas in Croatia and are important as natural habitats for ungulates. The aim of this study was to determine the scale of mortality caused by flooding within these forests. Over a 10-year period, data on ungulate mortality (red deer, roe deer and wild boar), flood duration and flooded surface area were recorded. The study was conducted in primary (Posavske Šume—RET I) and secondary (Opeke II—RET II) retention areas within Lonjsko Polje Nature Park (Sava River region, Croatia). The longest flood period and the largest flooded surface area were recorded in RET I. Total ungulate mortality was 749 individuals, with 482 individuals in RET I and 267 individuals in RET II, predominantly wild boar. Flood mortality did not differ by gender. The highest mortality of wild boar was recorded for the juvenile and yearling age classes. Low mortality of red and roe deer can be attributed to their body size and ecological niches. Differences in mortality between the primary and secondary retention areas corresponded to differences in flood regimes, flood column heights and micro relief structures. In both retention areas, wild boar mortality and flood duration, i.e. flooded surface area, were positively correlated. Because the growth rate of the analysed ungulate populations was higher than the recorded mortality, no long-term effect of floods is expected on species abundance in these areas.

Keywords

Floods Floodplain forests Mortality Red deer Roe deer Wild boar 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank to the gamekeepers from Posavske Šume and Opeke II for their assistance in field work. Also, thanks to Linda Zanella for providing language editing and proofreading.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Author’s contributions

D. U designed the study. D. U and N. Š wrote introduction and discussion, while N. KU analysed data and wrote results. M. O revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Damir Ugarković
    • 1
  • Nikica Šprem
    • 2
  • Nikolina Kelava Ugarković
    • 3
    Email author
  • Milan Oršanić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Silviculture, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries, Beekeeping, Game Management and Special Zoology, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Department of Animal Science and Technology, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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