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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) has minor effects on soil nutrient and carbon dynamics

Lundgren, Andreas; Strengbom, Joachim; Granath, Gustaf


Wild boar populations have increased worldwide, but the consequences of their disturbances on boreal forest ecosystems are largely unknown. We investigated how wild boars affect soil processes in a Swedish boreal forest. We estimated effects on ecosystem functioning using phospholipid fatty acid analyses (PLFA) to characterise microbial groups, and by measuring soil respiration, soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, as well as the availability of NO3- and NH4+. We compared samples collected inside wild boar enclosures with adjacent reference areas without wild boar disturbance. We found no difference in soil microbial composition, except for a consistently higher fungi:bacteria ratio in the enclosures. These results are contrary to our hypothesis that rooting raises nitrogen levels, which in turn result in more bacteria. Soil nutrient levels showed inconsistent patterns, suggesting that substrate changes - as opposed to nutrient changes - stimulated fungal growth. Soil respiration was lower in the enclosures, contradicting earlier findings suggesting increased soil CO2 emissions from wild boar rooting. Overall, our study suggests that increased wild boar abundance has a minor impact on soil processes in boreal forests. Future studies should determine if the modest impacts remain across time and boreal forests.


carbon flux; disturbance; nutrient cycling; PLFA; soil carbon; soil respiration

Published in

2023, Volume: 30, number: 2, pages: 84-96