morelle K._Eur J Wildl Res_seasonal variation_PR2014

Morelle K., Lejeune P.

[2014 ] Seasonal variations of wild boar Sus scrofa distribution in agricultural landscapes: a species distribution modelling approach. Eur J Wildl Res, DOI 10.1007/s10344-014-0872-6

Seasonal changes in the distribution of animals can have an important impact on the ecosystem. In agricultural landscapes, the seasonal movement of the wild boar Sus scrofa towards field crops often results in damages and makes control of the population difficult. The plasticity of the species to cope with different habitats is largely proven, but the environmental and human drivers of this seasonal habitat shift at the population scale remain largely unknown. Using MaxEnt and two seasonally distinct presence datasets, we contrasted the distribution of wild boar in southern Belgium during the growing and hunting seasons to (i) analyse seasonal drivers of the distribution and (ii) forecast the potential spread of the species north to its current distribution.We demonstrated that during the growing season, wild boar range almost double, owing to the cover and food provided by agricultural areas, thereby enhancing the movement and spread of the species. We found that the seasonal distribution of wild boar in agricultural lands is mostly influenced by the search for cover and food provided alternatively by forest and field crops. Interestingly, it seems that this search for cover operates under the constraint of a threshold distance. Our results indeed reveal an increased probability of presence not only in the vicinity of forests but also above a threshold distance of 865m from the forest edge, suggesting that wild boar can overcome the dependence to forest cover. The forecast distribution of wild boar highlighted a potential increase of the current range into suitable habitat between 63 and 168 km2. To counteract the potential spread of the species into agricultural habitats and the consecutive damages, we insist on the need for the development of integrated management strategies, combining land use spatial configuration and wild boar spatial behaviour.

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