Outdoor recreation causes effective habitat reduction in capercaillie Tetrao urogallus: a major threat for geographically restricted populations

Coppes, Joy; Ehrlacher, Judith; Thiel, Dominik; Suchant, Rudi; Braunisch, Veronika (2017). Outdoor recreation causes effective habitat reduction in capercaillie Tetrao urogallus: a major threat for geographically restricted populations. Journal of avian biology, 48(12), pp. 1583-1594. Wiley 10.1111/jav.01239

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Outdoor recreation inflicts a wide array of impacts on individual animals, many of them reflected in the avoidance of disturbed areas. The scale and spatial extent, however, at which wildlife populations are affected, are mostly unclear. Particularly in geographically isolated populations, where restricted habitat availability may preclude a relocation to undisturbed areas, effective habitat reduction may remain underestimated or even unnoticed, when animals stay in disturbed areas and only show small-scale responses. Based on telemetry data, we investigated the spatial and seasonal effects of outdoor recreation – in relation to landscape and vegetation conditions – on western capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, considering two scales, home range and within-home range habitat selection. We determined the distance-thresholds up to which recreation infrastructures were avoided and estimated the extent of affected habitat for the isolated Black Forest (southwestern Germany) study population. While outdoor recreation did not affect home range selection, strong effects on habitat use within the home range were detected: distance to recreation infrastructure (hiking and cross-country skiing trails, ski pistes) was the main determinant of habitat selection in winter; in summer, mountain bike trails and hiker’s restaurants were avoided up to an average distance of 145 m (CI: 60–1092 m). Around winter-infrastructure, relative avoidance was recorded up to 320 m (CI: 36–327 m), it was reduced, however, when dense understory provided visual cover. Of the entire population area, between 8–20% (summer) and 8–40% (winter) were affected by outdoor recreation, mainly in the high altitudes. Even without evident large-scale shifts in species distribution, local-scale avoidance of outdoor recreation can substantially contribute to effective habitat reduction. Based on our results we recommend a general reduction in recreation infrastructure density in key habitats, the establishment of undisturbed wildlife refuges with a diameter of at least 800 m, as well as enhancing visual protection by maintaining a strip of dense understory along trails.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Braunisch, Veronika

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0908-8857

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

18 Apr 2018 08:39

Last Modified:

24 Oct 2019 06:51

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/jav.01239

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.110643

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/110643

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