Spatial avoidance between red deer and cattle in alpine pastures
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Stelvio National Park – ERSAF Lombardia, Via de Simoni 42, 23032 Bormio, SO, Italy
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via dell’Università 6, 26900 Lodi, Italy
Department of Biosciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
Coordinated Research Center "EpiSoMI", Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
Sustainable Development and Protected Area Service, Stelvio National Park Office, Autonomous Province of Trento, Via Roma 65, 38124 Cogolo di Peio, Italy
University of Freiburg, Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management, Tennenbacher Straße 4, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
Online publication date: 2021-11-03
Publication date: 2021-11-03
Corresponding author
Alessandro Forti   

Stelvio National Park – Ersaf Lombardia, Via De Simoni 42, 23032 Bormio, SO, Italy
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2021;32(2):196-199
The interaction between wild and domestic ungulates may have positive or negative effects. Cattle grazing, for example can preserve open space and improve forage quality but also decrease forage availability and favor disease transmission. Consequently, multiple patterns of space use can be expected between wild ungulates and livestock. Here, we investigate the spatial overlap between red deer (Cervus elaphus) and cattle in alpine summer pastures in the Stelvio National Park (central Italian Alps), using pellet groups counts estimated with distance sampling for red deer and bovine scats estimated with strip transects. After accounting for environmental covariates, our results showed that with increasing bovine scat density, red deer pellet group density decreased. These results suggest that red deer may avoid bovines, though other mechanisms (e.g., human presence) may concur to trigger spatial avoidance. Understanding the drivers of the interactions between wildlife and livestock in Italian Alps would help conservation measures by enhancing coexistence on pastures.
We thank Eric Rexstad (University of St. Andrews) for useful advices on distance sampling analysis. We also thank Alessandro Bianchi, Anna Chiara Garbarino and Alessandro Gugiatti for their support in conceiving the sampling design. We thank two anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor for insightful comments to earlier drafts of the manuscript.
This work was partially funded by Italian Ministry of Health (Ricerca Corrente IZSLER10/19RC) and Alessandro Forti was supported by University of Milan.
There are no potential conflicts of interest for any of the authors.
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