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Coppes, J; Nopp-Mayr, U; Grunschachner-Berger, V; Storch, I; Suchant, R; Braunisch, V.
(2018): Habitat suitability modulates the response of wildlife to human recreation
BIOL CONSERV. 2018; 227: 56-64. FullText FullText_BOKU

Outdoor recreation activities are growing in popularity, causing increasing pressure on wildlife. There are various ways in which wildlife reacts to recreation activities, ranging from behavioural to physiological responses, with regional variation in response-intensity within the same species. We tested whether the effects of human recreation are modulated by overall structural habitat suitability, using a model that included vegetation and topography, at both the regional and local habitat use scale. By undertaking a systematic, plot-based survey over 13 years in 13 study regions across central Europe, we studied how recreation infrastructure and habitat suitability interact and affect the variation in regional densities and local habitat use of an endangered model species: the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). Both regional densities and local habitat use varied greatly between study years and regions. Capercaillie densities were positively correlated with average habitat suitability, but significantly reduced when over 50% of the area was influenced by recreation activities. Habitat suitability was the main predictor determining local habitat use. Recreation infrastructures were avoided: the effect being stronger in poor habitat conditions, while slightly mediated by high habitat suitability. Our results indicate that effects of recreation activities might be mitigated by improving habitat suitability; however this has limits because it only affects local scale habitat use but not regional densities. We stress the importance of recreation-free areas which must cover extensive (i.e. > 50%) parts of the species range.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Nopp-Mayr Ursula
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Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Habitat suitability
Habitat use
Wildlife refuge

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