Cattle grazing effects on mountain gazelles in Mediterranean natural landscapes Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Frequently, Mediterranean natural and semi-natural areas will undergo cattle grazing as a form of fire fuel reduction management. We used a multi-species approach to understand effects of cattle grazing on mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) in relation to 2 potential predators of gazelle neonates: golden jackal (Canis aureus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). We used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data and a fine-scale camera trap design (0.01-km2 grid) in Ramat Hanadiv Nature Park in the Mediterranean region of Israel to determine gazelle habitat and patch preferences in response to grazing using N-mixture models. Cattle grazing decreased female gazelle detectability and activity and attracted potential predators during the most sensitive time of the year for gazelle: parturition and the critical first 5 weeks of fawns' lives. Grazing management acts as a disturbance for gazelles and increases risk for neonates. Our results show the importance of understanding the broader mechanism behind predator–prey dynamics and how indirect human-mediated management actions and direct predation may have adverse effects on wild populations. We recommend that cattle be allowed to enter natural areas only after the spring birth peak. © 2017 The Wildlife Society.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017