Background to the research
The aim of the project is to answer the question whether significant ecological, behavioural and phenotypical plasticity of roe deer Capreolus capreolus related to their habitat (from closed forests to open meadow areas) is reflected in genetic diversity, especially in the existence of the so-called cryptic genetic structure present in the population despite the lack of topographic barriers for genes flow. The approach applied in the project is to combine ecological methods (using trapping, individual marking of roe deer with GPS transmitters, and then long-term monitoring), molecular methods (examining genetic structure by means of micro-satellite markers of molecular DNA and mtDNA) and spatial analyses of results obtained by using GIS software.
Goals and assumptions
The aim of the research is to answer the following questions:
(1) what is the diversity of population density, structure and herd size, permanence of social groups, size of acreages and the dispersion coverage of roe deer living in various habitats;
(2) is landscape structure (forest habitat, field-forest mosaic and open field-meadow areas) and diversity of parameters of roe deer ecology reflected in the genetic structure of local populations;
(3) how permanent is the attachment of various sex and age classes of roe deer to the habitat with regard to season, year and life span;
(4) do young animals disperse to the same type of habitat they are originating from;
(5) what are the gene flow directions in the local population, especially with regard to diverse landscape structure.
- trapping (box traps, drop-net traps, drive nets) in order to collect genetic samples and fit animals with radio collars
- density estimates (drive counts, distance sampling)
- food quantity and quality estimates (sampling of biomass and potential food species as a proxy of food resources)
- analyses of habitat structure by GIS methods
- genetic analyses of relatedness and genetic structure of population
Relevant reading material
- Apollonio M., Hartl G. B. 1993. Are biochemical-genetic variation and mating systems related in large mammals? – Acta Theriologica 38, Suppl 2: 175-185.
- Aulak W., Babińska-Werka J. 1990. Preference of different habitats and age classes of forest by roe deer. – Acta Theriologica 35: 289-298.
- Bresiński W. 1982. Grouping tendencies in roe deer under agrocenosis conditions. – Acta Theriologica 27: 427- 447.
- Buckland S. T., Anderson D.A., Burnham K. P., Laake J. L. 1993. Distance sampling: Estimating abundance of biological populations. Chapman and Hall. London.
- Cederlund G., Lindstrom E. 1983. Effects of severe winters and fox predation on roe deer mortality. – Acta Theriologica 28: 129-145.
- Cimono L., Lovan S. 2003. The effects of food or cover removal on spacing pattems and habitat use in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). – Journal of Zoology 261: 299-305.
- Coulon A., Cosson J.F., Angibault J.M., Cargnehitti B, 2004. Landscape connectivity influences gene flow in a roe deer population inhabiting a fragmented landscape: an individual-based approach. – Molecular Ecology 13: 2841 – 2850.
Number of volunteers required per year: 8 (≥ 2months stay)
Work volunteers would perform: radio-tracking, various methods of distance sampling, habitat structure description, data entering in the computer, basic data processing and analysis
Minimum duration of stay: 2 months.
Field work requires good physical condition (e.g. hiking over sometimes rough roads or no roads at all), resistance to harsh weather conditions (rain, snow, cold) and independent working skills (especially in the night). Working time is 40 hours/week. Driving license is required.