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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Interactions between a population of fallow deer (Dama dama), humans and crops in a managed composite temperate landscape in southern Sweden: Conflict or opportunity?

Menichetti, Lorenzo; Touzot, Laura; Elofsson, Katarina; Hyvonen, Riitta; Katterer, Thomas; Kjellander, Petter


Landscapes composed of agricultural land mixed with forest are desirable since they provide a wide range of diversified ecosystem services, unlike specialized agricultural landscapes, but that creates a trade-off between these land uses since wildlife usually feed on crops and reduce yields. In Nordic countries, where human population density is low and game hunting can be a viable economic alternative, mixed landscape systems are particularly interesting. To evaluate the economic sustainability of such systems we need to quantify wildlife damage to crops. One important species, being popular among Swedish hunters and therefore economically valuable, is fallow deer (Dama dama). Our objective was to evaluate the economic sustainability of mixed landscape systems including cultivated fields and commercial hunting of fallow deer. We studied the effects of excluding fallow deer by using 86 exclosures and adjacent plots in winter wheat and oat fields in south-west Sweden. We analyzed yield losses and interactions between spatial and temporal grazing patterns, anthropogenic landscape features, and topological characteristics of the landscape. We found that animals avoided exposed spots, irrespective of distance from human activity. We also found a seasonal grazing pattern related to the different growing periods of winter wheat (more grazed, emerging in autumn) and spring oat (less grazed, emerging in spring). We then compared the costs of crop damage against the commercial value of fallow deer hunting. The damage amounted to 375 +/- 196 is an element of ha(-1) for wheat and 152 +/- 138 is an element of ha(-1) for oat, corresponding to a total cost per animal of 82.7 +/- 81.0 is an element of, while each animal had an estimated market value of approximately 100 is an element of. Therefore the value of fallow deer presence compensated for the associated cost of crop damage. Profit could be further improved in this case by adopting additional management strategies. In general our study confirmed the economic feasibility of this particular mixed land management.

Published in

2019, Volume: 14, number: 4, article number: e0215594