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Population dynamics of red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) in Scottish commercial forests

  • Philip R. Ratcliffe (a1)

Synopsis

Documented studies of the ecology of red deer in Scotland refer principally to populations which occupy treeless moorlands. Commercial forests have become a major part of the Scottish landscape and little is known of the dynamics of the red deer populations which inhabit them.

Red deer which benefit from the enhanced shelter and nutrition of a woodland habitat often perform better than those occupying open-range. Birth rates of 60–70 calves 100 hinds are common, especially in forests in the south and west of Scotland. This potential may be reduced to a post-winter recruitment of 50 60 calves 100 hinds (cf. birth rates on open-range of 40 60 calves 100 hinds reducing to 30–35). A range of densities in forests of 5–15 deer km" is almost identical to the densities found on open-range.

Simulation models suggest that many woodland populations can support a sustained yield of about 20% of adults each year and focus attention on the practical difficulties of achieving culls in commercial forests. Simulations of changes in forest structure are used to demonstrate the related changes occurring in the ability of the habitat to support changing densities of deer through time.

In a study in Galloway, southern Scotland, evidence suggests that the red deer population has increased considerably during the expansion of commercial forestry between 1960–80.

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References

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Population dynamics of red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) in Scottish commercial forests

  • Philip R. Ratcliffe (a1)

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