Humans have modified most ecosystems on Earth to a degree where even the largest “wild” nature reserves need management to avoid the loss of biodiversity. Native large herbivore grazing has potential as an efficient and natural tool in this management because they create dynamics and keep landscapes open. However, in order to use this tool properly, we need to know more about what the animals eat compared to what is available in different habitats and how access to supplementary fodder influences the grazing effect on the vegetation. Using DNA barcoding of feces, we are investigating the diet preferences of deer (red deer and roe deer) in Klelund Deer Park in Denmark. Over one year, we collect feces samples every month from different habitat types (e.g., heath, marsh, meadow, open forests and coniferous plantation) within the park. DNA barcoding can not only tell us which plants are consumed but also in which proportions. We intend to uncover the variation in deer diet over a year and among different habitats and how supplementary fodder influences the diet preference. The results will contribute to a better understanding of deer management as well as how deer grazing can be used as a tool in management of open landscapes.
Main Research Area:
Open Landscapes 2013: Ecology, Management and Nature Conservation