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How does increasing mast seeding frequency affect population dynamics of seed consumers? Wild boar as a case study

Citation

Touzot, Laura et al. (2020), How does increasing mast seeding frequency affect population dynamics of seed consumers? Wild boar as a case study, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0gb5mkkxr

Abstract

Mast seeding in temperate oak populations shapes the dynamics of seed consumers and numerous communities. Mast seeding responds positively to warm spring temperatures and is therefore expected to increase under global warming. We investigated the potential effects of changes in oak mast seeding on wild boar population dynamics, a widespread and abundant consumer species. Using long-term monitoring data, we showed that abundant acorn production enhances the proportion of breeding females. With a body mass-structured population model and a fixed hunting rate of 0.424, we showed that high acorn production over time would lead to an average wild boar population growth rate of 1.197 whereas non-acorn production would lead to a stable population. Finally, using climate projections and a mechanistic model linking weather data to oak reproduction, we predicted that mast seeding frequency might increase over the next century, which would lead to increase in both wild boar population size and the magnitude of its temporal variation. Our study provides rare evidence that some species could greatly benefit from global warming thanks to higher food availability and therefore highlights the importance of investigating the cascading effects of changing weather conditions on the dynamics of wild animal populations to reliably assess the effects of climate change.

Methods

Using climate projections defined at the spatial scale of our study site and a resource budget model that mecanisticly linked weather data to oak reproduction, we projected scenario of acorn production dynamics over the next century (Scenario 1 to 10). Additonnaly, we projected reference scenarios of acorn production dynamics based on climate data that assumed no increase in spring temperatures in coming decades. 

Lastly, we used a body mass-structured population model to project the response of our wild boar population to the different scenarios of acorn production we simulated. 

Funding

Office Français de la Biodiversité

Office National des Forêts

Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs

Research Council of Norway, Centre of Excellence funding scheme , Award: project number 223257

Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique

Office National des Forêts

Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs

Research Council of Norway, Centre of Excellence funding scheme, Award: project number 223257