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Naivety dies with the calf: Learning effects in a heavily harvested ungulate

Cite this dataset

Graf, Lukas; Thurfjell, Henrik; Ericsson, Göran; Neumann, Wiebke (2021). Naivety dies with the calf: Learning effects in a heavily harvested ungulate [Dataset]. Dryad.


In animals, habitat selection and movement strategies may affect survival and this may be key agents in selection affection the evolution of a species. To test for learning capabilities of previous experience of hunting in a long-lived, solitary and heavily harvested ungulate, we combined longitudinal GPS-data from 84 female moose (Alces alces) with data on calf and adult survival. We tested the prediction that long-lived moose individuals would adapt their behavior over time due to experience from hunting in the absence of natural predators. We found that female moose may learn from having their calf harvested and alters their behavior the following hunting season in response to previous experience. We also found that females were more likely to be harvested when selecting more for open habitats. As a consequence, surviving females increased their use of cover in the following hunting season after losing a calf to harvest. Use of habitat with cover furthermore increases as female moose aged, indicating that learning effects are reinforced over time. Our study highlights that losing an offspring imposes a strong learning effect in a solitary ungulate and those learning effects may influence future harvest success and tools available within ungulate management.

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