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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Density-dependent dinner: Wild boar overuse agricultural land at high densities

Augustsson, Evelina; Kim, Hyeyoung; Andren, Henrik; Graf, Lukas; Kjellander, Petter; Widgren, Stefan; Mansson, Johan; Malmsten, Jonas; Thurfjell, Henrik

Abstract

The Swedish wild boar (Sus scrofa) population has increased rapidly over the last decades, resulting in conflicts with human activities. Particularly, the increase has been challenging for agriculture as wild boar cause damage on crops and grasslands. To predict under what conditions to expect damage and where to prioritize management actions, basic knowledge about wild boar habitat and space use is needed. In this study, we used data from 99 wild boar equipped with GPS-collars, collected over a large temporal scale and throughout their distributional range in southern Sweden. We investigated wild boar home range size and habitat use across gradients of habitat availability and population density. Functional response in habitat use was assessed by estimating the use and availability of agricultural land on individual level and then, on population-level evaluating how use changed with changing availability. Finally, a potential response in habitat use was evaluated in relation to population density, i.e., the interaction between availability and population density. Home range size was negatively related to population density for both male and female wild boar. Wild boar used agricultural land more intensively with increasing population density and when other habitat types were less available. Our findings show that wild boar spatial behavior is highly context dependent and may vary considerably due to landscape characteristics and local conditions. Wild boars tend to overuse agricultural land at high densities which has strong implications for wildlife management. It is therefore important to consider local conditions when predicting space and habitat use by wild boar. Overall, this study provided a better understanding of the drivers of wild boar distribution and space use in agro-forested mosaic landscapes and how this knowledge can improve management practices.

Keywords

Spatial behavior; Habitat use; Population density; Wild boar; Sus scrofa

Published in

European Journal of Wildlife Research
2024, Volume: 70, number: 1, article number: 15Publisher: SPRINGER