Combined effects of drought and density on body and antler size of male Iberian red deer Cervus elaphus hispanicus: climate change implications
Authors: Torres-Porras, Jerónimo; Carranza, Juan; Pérez-González, Javier
Source: Wildlife Biology, Volume 15, Number 2, June 2009 , pp. 213-221(9)
Publisher: Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Abstract:Hunting management of red deer Cervus elaphus populations may tend to increase population densities to maximise annual yield. Some studies have shown that density and low winter temperatures affect red deer populations in central and northern Europe, but these results cannot be extrapolated to red deer populations in the Mediterranean region where the limiting season is summer instead of winter. The two regions are predicted to experience different climate change effects: while rainfall may increase in northern latitudes, heavier droughts are expected in the Mediterranean region. We studied red deer populations of different densities on 19 hunting estates in southern Spain during two years with contrasting precipitation levels. Our aim was to quantify the combined effects of drought and population density on the development of stags, which is the main economic objective of hunting management in these areas. We found that drought affected body and antler size negatively, and that the effects were more severe in populations of high density. On the basis of our results, we recommend reducing the current densities of red deer in southern Spain to maintain the economic and environmental sustainability of hunting exploitation in the context of global climate change.
Document Type: Short Communication
Publication date: June 2009
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