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Doctoral thesis2011Open access

Spatial behaviour of wild boar

Thurfjell, Henrik


The spatial behaviour of an animal is influenced by decisions relating to foraging, movement, avoidance, resting, territorial activity, mating and rearing young. Many of these behaviours can be explained by the optimal foraging theory, exceptions being reproductive behaviours and predator avoidance. Predation risk and associated avoidance behaviors varies across the landscape, resulting in a divergence from patterns predicted by optimal foraging theory, instead optimizing fitness. Such risk effects can be large and affect both individuals and population demography. This thesis focus on external factors affecting movements and habitat selection of wild boar females (N=15-17 depending on the question) using data from GPS collared individuals (N>100.000 data points analyzed) over 4 years in the southern part of Sweden. My results show that habitat selection is affected by season and by risk effects, such as traffic and hunting. Intense traffic diverts wild boar from crossing roads, and reduce the number of traffic accidents when traffic intensity is high. Intense hunting results in fleeing while less intense hunting results in hiding. Hunts that results in flights affects habitat selection until wild boar returned to their homer range. Wild boar perceive crop fields as risky but rewarding habitats, and while using crop fields they prefer to be close to cover such as edges, hedges and ditches. Further, wild boar movement is affected by seasonal and temporal aspects and weather conditions. The most common reaction to stressful factors such as traffic, hunting and aversive weather was to reduce movement. The only exception was when wild boar were chased in drive hunts and fled. These results are important for understanding how weather conditions affect optimal foraging strategies and how the animals’ perception of risk affects movement patterns and habitat selection. From a management perspective, my results can be used to reduce crop damages and traffic accidents caused by wild boar. These findings are also useful in understanding how hunting as a management tool affects the space use of wild boar, and consequently can aid managers to select hunting methods that may reduce damages to crops.


wild boar; sus scrofa; animal behaviour; habitats; foraging; global positioning systems

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2011, number: 2011:45ISBN: 978-91-576-7589-7
Publisher: Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences