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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2010 10/C/718 UCC, (WIT) €384,195

Project Title:

The use of forests by deer in Ireland (FORDEER)

Project Coordinator:

Prof. John O'Halloran

Project Abstract

The FORDEER (The use of forests by deer in Ireland) project will provide a landscape level study of deer populations and behaviour in a mosaic of forest and agricultural habitats in Ireland. Existing information on the use of forests by deer, and in particular the damage caused, has been reviewed to identify gaps in the existing research and policy requirements. This has informed refinement of project design and the data collection phase of this study which is now underway. In order to establish the range of deer densities and deer damage present in different forest sites at local and landscape scale two sets of study sites were selected. The first were two case study sites in the Boggeragh Mountains and the Nagles Mountains in county Cork which were selected to facilitate detailed study of the use of forests by deer at local scale. These sites measure 16km2 and include areas of commercial forest plantations and semi-natural woodlands, of different sizes, ages and tree species composition. The second are a set of 100 national survey sites, 20 in each of five regions in the east, midlands, south-west, west and north-west, which were selected to facilitate a landscape scape study of the use of forests by deer. Methods for recording the presence and impacts of deer in commercial forestry have been developed based on field survey techniques from elsewhere in Europe and recommended good deer management practices. These methods are being used to assess the presence of deer and assess the negative impacts on trees in the project study sites, where habitat and landscape configuration are also being compiled to inform the analyses. These data will be used to identify the ways in which deer impact on forestry and investigate how landscape position, forest configuration and block size, as well as land-use objectives are related to the presence of deer and in turn whether these factors may be related to levels of damage to tree crops by deer. The findings of this study will support the development of an appropriate assessment methodology at landscape and local scales that will allow forest managers to consider the likely future impact of deer and to take a proactive approach to deer management and control of deer impacts. Real-time PCR species assays have been designed at Waterford Institute of Technology for the identification of red (Cervus elaphus), sika (Cervus nippon) and fallow (Dama dama) deer species from faecal pellets collected in the wild. These assays have been applied to field samples collected from the two case study sites during the winter baseline population survey. Real-time PCR sex assays, for use on deer faecal pellets, have also been developed and applied to a sub-sample of the winter survey samples. A genotyping panel for individual identification of deer has been developed for use on faecal pellets. Genotyping of field samples will provide a genetic estimate of population densities for the three deer species in the study areas.

Final Report:

Not available yet.