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Ljubljana, Slovenia

Elfstrom M.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Zedrosser A.,Telemark University College | Zedrosser A.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Jerina K.,University of Ljubljana | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2014

Bears foraging near human developments are often presumed to be responding to food shortage, but this explanation ignores social factors, in particular despotism in bears. We analyzed the age distribution and body condition index (BCI) of shot brown bears in relation to densities of bears and people, and whether the shot bears were killed by managers (i.e., problem bears; n=149), in self-defense (n=51), or were hunter-killed nonproblem bears (n=1,896) during 1990-2010. We compared patterns between areas with (Slovenia) and without supplemental feeding (Sweden) of bears relative to 2 hypotheses. The food-search/food-competition hypothesis predicts that problem bears should have a higher BCI (e.g., exploiting easily accessible and/or nutritious human-derived foods) or lower BCI (e.g., because of food shortage) than nonproblem bears, that BCI and human density should have a positive correlation, and problem bear occurrence and seasonal mean BCI of nonproblem bears should have a negative correlation (i.e., more problem bears during years of low food availability). Food competition among bears additionally predicts an inverse relationship between BCI and bear density. The safety-search/naivety hypothesis (i.e., avoiding other bears or lack of human experience) predicts no relationship between BCI and human density, provided no dietary differences due to spatiotemporal habitat use among bears, no relationship between problem bear occurrence and seasonal mean BCI of nonproblem bears, and does not necessarily predict a difference between BCI for problem/nonproblem bears. If food competition or predation avoidance explained bear occurrence near settlements, we predicted younger problem than nonproblem bears and a negative correlation between age and human density. However, if only food search explained bear occurrence near settlements, we predicted no relation between age and problem or nonproblem bear status, or between age and human density. We found no difference in BCI or its variability between problem and nonproblem bears, no relation between BCI and human density, and no correlation between numbers of problem bears shot and seasonal mean BCI for either country. The peak of shot problem bears occurred from April to June in Slovenia and in June in Sweden (i.e., during the mating period when most intraspecific predation occurs and before fall hyperphagia). Problem bears were younger than nonproblem bears, and both problem and nonproblem bears were younger in areas of higher human density. These age differences, in combination with similarities in BCI between problem and nonproblem bears and lack of correlation between BCI and human density, suggested safety-search and naïve dispersal to be the primary mechanisms responsible for bear occurrence near settlements. Younger bears are less competitive, more vulnerable to intraspecific predation, and lack human experience, compared to adults. Body condition was inversely related to the bear density index in Sweden, whereas we found no correlation in Slovenia, suggesting that supplemental feeding may have reduced food competition, in combination with high bear harvest rates. Bears shot in self-defense were older and their BCI did not differ from that of nonproblem bears. Reasons other than food shortage apparently explained why most bears were involved in encounters with people or viewed as problematic near settlements in our study. © 2014 The Wildlife Society. © 2014 The Authors. Journal of Wildlife Management Published by The Wildlife Society.

Molinari-Jobin A.,KORA | Kery M.,Swiss Ornithological Institute | Marboutin E.,ONCFS | Molinari P.,Italian Lynx Project | And 8 more authors.
Animal Conservation | Year: 2012

Inferring the distribution and abundance of a species from field records must deal with false-negative and false-positive errors. False-negative errors occur if a species present goes undetected, while false-positive errors are typically a consequence of species misidentification. False-positive observations in studies of rare species may cause an overestimation of the distribution or abundance of the species and distort trend indices. We illustrate this issue with the monitoring of the Eurasian lynx in the Alps. We developed a three-level classification of field records according to their reliability as inferred from whether they were validated or not. The first category (C1) represents 'hard fact' data (e.g. dead lynx); the second category (C2) includes confirmed data (e.g. tracks verified by an expert); and the third category (C3) are unconfirmed data (e.g. any kind of direct visual observation). For lynx, which is a comparatively well-known species in the Alps, we use site-occupancy modelling to estimate its distribution and show that the inferred lynx distribution is highly sensitive to presence sign category: it is larger if based on C3 records compared with the more reliable C1 and C2 records. We believe that the reason for this is a fairly high frequency of false-positive errors among C3 records. This suggests that distribution records for many lesser-known species may be similarly unreliable, because they are mostly or exclusively based on unconfirmed and thus soft data. Nevertheless, such soft data form a considerable part of species assessments as presented, for example in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. However, C3 records can often not be discarded because they may be the only information available. When inferring the distribution of rare carnivores, especially for species with an expanding or shrinking range, we recommend a rigorous discrimination between fully reliable and un- or only partly reliable data, in order to identify possible methodological problems in the distribution maps related to false-positive records. © 2011 The Authors. Animal Conservation © 2011 The Zoological Society of London.

Simoncic T.,University of Ljubljana | Boncina A.,University of Ljubljana | Rosset C.,Bern University of Applied Sciences | Binder F.,Bavarian Forest Institute | And 7 more authors.
International Forestry Review | Year: 2013

In the framework of multi-objective forest management, 'priority areas' which are relatively more important for the selected management objectives are commonly designated. Using a comparative analysis of guided interviews, we examined the use and importance of priority areas in forest planning in nine Central European countries. In all countries, priority areas have been widely used, forest function areas and protected areas being the most common. According to management objectives, more than 20 types of priority areas were recognised, with priority areas for protection against natural hazards, nature conservation, recreation, welfare, and production being the most prevalent. Criteria for the designation differ among the countries; however, site conditions and infrastructure facilities are most often used. The scale of designation ranges from 1:10 000-1:50 000, and the size of priority areas varies from 0.1 ha to several hundreds of ha. The level of participation of stakeholders involved in the designation of priority areas differs among and within the countries. The effectiveness of priority areas for forest management can be improved by transparent designation criteria, objective oriented management measures, and efficient financial instruments.

Jerina K.,University of Ljubljana | Jonozovic M.,Slovenia Forest Service | Krofel M.,University of Ljubljana | Skrbinsek T.,University of Ljubljana
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2013

Solid understanding of species' range and local population densities is important for successful wildlife management and research. Specific behavioral and ecological characteristics make brown bear Ursus arctos a difficult species to study. We present a map of range and local population densities of brown bears in Slovenia, made with the use of a new approach similar to voting classifications based on a combination of four datasets: Global Positioning System telemetry data, records of bear removals, systematic and opportunistic direct observations and signs of bear presence, and noninvasive genetic samples. Results indicate that the majority of bears in Slovenia live in Dinaric Mountains in the southern part of the country where local bear population densities exceed 40 bears/100 km2. This is one of the highest population densities reported so far for this species worldwide. Population densities decrease towards the north (Alpine region) and are very low along the border with Italy and Austria where almost no females are present. This explains slow past and present expansion of this transboundary bear population into the Alps and should be considered in future bear re-colonization management strategies. Results also showed that data from observations and removals overestimate bear population densities at low values, while mortality and genetic data overestimate population densities in areas with more people. Nevertheless, all data types appeared useful for describing the general bear distribution patterns. Similar approach could be applied to studies of other charismatic or game species, for which several types of data are often available. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Hastik R.,University of Innsbruck | Basso S.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Geitner C.,University of Innsbruck | Haida C.,Center for Climate Change Adaptation | And 5 more authors.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2015

Summary Expansion of renewable energies (=RE) is a key measure in climate change mitigation. For this expansion mountainous areas are regarded as specifically suitable because of their high-energy potential. However, mountains also are biodiversity hot-spots and provide scenic landscapes and therefore offer high natural and cultural value. Preserving this natural and cultural value whilst intensifying RE, is expected to increase land use conflicts. This is of great concern in particular for vulnerable areas such as the Alps. Reconciling RE expansion with the preservation of natural and cultural values and thus minimizing environmental impacts represents one of the most important challenges now. For this a systematic assessment of the wide range of impacts is needed. This literature review scrutinizes RE resources which are relevant in the Alpine region and their effects on the environment by applying the Ecosystem Service approach. Thereby, we identified possible environmental constraints when exploiting Alpine RE potentials and generated recommendations for future strategies on expanding RE. The outcomes highlight the strong need for interdisciplinary research on RE and environmental conflicts. Interdisciplinary approaches such as the concept of Ecosystem Services can help to cover the wide range of aspects associated with these particular human-environment interrelations. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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