DS0101 - Comprendre et prévoir les évolutions de l'environnement

Phenotypic plasticity of a large herbivore along environmental gradients: The EUropean ROe deer NETwork – EUROENET

Phenotypic plasticity of a large herbivore along environmental gradients: The EUropean ROe deer NETwork

The central objective of the EUROENET network project is to promote data sharing and international scientific collaboration at the scale of the European continent on an emblematic pan-European large herbivore, an ecosystem engineer species, in order to better understand how species may adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

To investigate the environmental drivers of observed plasticity in behaviour and life histories of roe deer along climatic and environmental gradients

The stated central aim of EUROENET is to investigate the environmental drivers of observed plasticity in behaviour and life histories of roe deer along climatic and environmental gradients and, thus, infer individual-, population- and species-level responses to human-driven modification of landscapes and climate. While each participating group will continue to finance their individual research programmes, the current EUROENET funding proposal will enable the development of the shared data base and promote intensive collaboration through scientific meetings of the network participants, workshops, and short exchange visits. The proposal is thus organised into two distinct, but intimately connected, work packages, in addition to a third dedicated to coordination of the overall network (WP0 = project co-ordination). WP1 will focus on the development of the data base and the facilitation of its exploitation, while WP2 will aim to stimulate scientific collaboration at the continental scale, centered on the exploitation of this communal data base, by building multi-partner scientific projects during annual meetings, thematic workshops and short-term visits between countries (see details below).

The aims of the current proposal will be achieved through the development of a large, multi-site, individual-based empirical data base for roe deer at the continental scale. The EURODEER initiative (European roe deer collaborative project, www.eurodeer.org Cagnacci et al. 2011) was launched in 2010, but requires considerable investment to further develop the data base structure and accessibility and to intensify its exploitation through multi-partner continental-wide scientific collaboration. The initiative is currently based on a shared repository of individual-level behavioural data (i.e. spatial locations from telemetry) and other life history information built with open source software (PostgreSQL + PostGIS) and hosted at the Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy). The data base can be connected to a large set of client applications (GIS, web interfaces, statistics) for facilitating storage, management, access and analysis of data derived from multiple long-term population monitoring studies spanning the entire distribution range of the species across Europe (0°21’W-23°52’E and 60°46'N-38°10'S). At present, the data base is static and temporary, but the aim is to provide a permanently structured and dynamically updatable data repository within this long term project. EURODEER currently comprises 29 research groups in 14 European countries (Fig. 1), including several internationally renowned leaders in evolutionary ecology of large herbivores, and includes space use data for almost 1000 individually monitored roe deer (N = 714 with GPS and 274 with VHF). There is an obvious potential to develop and extend this data base to include a variety of additional animal-based data which are routinely collected in the different study sites (e.g. morphometric traits, genetic markers, demographic parameters, etc.) and biophysical information (geography, climate, landscape attributes) through remote sensing.

1. Data base development: - Around an additional 400 individual roe deer were added to the data base. This included both increases in sample size for certain study sites, and the addition of completely new study sites in some countries, to provide a total of around 5 million GPS locations. In addition, a substantial number of VHF data (around 100 000 locations) were also added to the data base. - Other ancillary data, such as population density, presence of predators, hunting regime etc, were also added for each study site. These metadata are essential for conducting comparative analyses at the population level. - Mortality data were also uploaded to allow survival analysis to be conducted using capture-mark-recapture approaches 2. Scientific working groups: - Effect of feeding station on movement behavior: the work of this groups was finalized during the General Assembly and Steering committee meetings, resulting in the submission of a manuscript to European Journal of Wildlife Research - EURODEER: a collaborative science experience : work on a « calling card » manuscript for a generalist journal (eg TREE), describing the Eurodeer experience and tools is well under way and should be completed during 2016 - Dispersal: a comparative analysis: data analysis of dispersal phenology and structure across Europe has been finished and work on the manuscript can now begin in 2016

1. Data base development: - Activity data from sensors within collars were also collected and collated, and will be uploaded to the data base in 2016 2. Scientific working groups: - Territoriality of male roe deer: work on identifying territorial behavior from telemetry data has been well advanced, most of the analyses are done and this will be completed during 2016, and the manuscript written for submission to Ecography. - Drivers of variation in migration amongst roe deer in Europe: this work formed an integral part of the PhD thesis of W Peters (see below); the chapter is currently being transformed into a manuscript format and will be submitted in early 2016 to Ecology. - Inter-specific competition between deer species : initial exploration work has been done on this question, formal analyses will be done during 2016. - Activity variation: data upload was completed and initial exploration work has been done on this question in 2015, formal analyses will be done during 2016 - Mortality patterns in European roe deer populations: data necessary for these analyses were uploaded to the data base during 2015 (see above), and the working group was formed, so that formal analyses will begin during 2016

1. Cagnacci F., Focardi S., Ghisla A., van Moorter B., Merril E., Gurarie E., Heurich M., Mysterud A., Linnell J., Panzacchi M., May R., Nygård T., Rolandsen C. & Hebblewhite M. 2016. How many routes lead to migration? Comparison of methods to assess and characterise migratory movements. Journal of Animal Ecology 85: 54-68. 2. Debeffe, L., Lemaitre, J-F., Bergvall, U.A., Hewison, A.J.M., Gaillard, J.M., Morellet, N., Goulard, M., Monestier, C., David, M., Verheyden, H., Jaderberg, L., Vanpé, C. & Kjellander, P. (2015) Short- and long-term repeatability of docility in the roe deer: sex and age matter. Animal Behaviour 109, 53-63. 3. Ossi, F. Gaillard, JM. Hebblewhite, M. & Cagnacci, F. Snow sinking depth and forest canopy drive winter resource selection more than supplemental feeding in an alpine population of roe deer. Eur J Wildl Res 61 : 111-124

Global change impacts wildlife by influencing behaviour and demography, ultimately leading to change in abundance and distribution. Phenotypic plasticity is key for understanding how wildlife will respond to environmental modification. The EUROENET project will promote data sharing and international collaboration at the scale of the European continent on an emblematic pan-European large herbivore, the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), in order to better understand how species may adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The central objective is to facilitate the identification of principal drivers of phenotypic plasticity in terms of behavioural and demographic traits, so as to evaluate how future global change will impact their behaviour, performance and spatial distribution. For this, there is a clear need for wide ranging comparative analyses at the continental scale. This will be achieved through promotion of the EURODEER initiative (www.eurodeer.org) which was launched in 2010 to facilitate collaborative work using a shared data base of individual-level behavioural data and other life history information, involving 29 research groups in 14 European countries. The EUROENET project will i/ extend the data base with a variety of additional animal-based data and biophysical information through remote sensing, and ii/ develop collaboration through comparative analyses of these data by financing meetings, workshops and exchanges.
Large scale studies and networks can provide significant breakthroughs in evolutionary ecology and are powerful tools for predicting the response of species to future scenarios of environmental change, but surprisingly few examples of this exist in animal ecology. The roe deer is the most common large herbivore in Europe, occupying a wide range of habitats and showing marked ecological and behavioural plasticity. This ecological engineer influences plant dynamics and community structure, nutrient cycles, biodiversity, disease prevalence and distribution. In addition, it has considerable socio-economic impact through hunting, collisions, plant damage and as a reservoir for pathogens. Global change will likely increase human-wildlife interactions and conflicts in the near future. Understanding how roe deer may adapt to environmental modification will help to predict how global change will modify its distribution and impact, promoting better management of the species and associated conflicts.
The EUROENET funding proposal will promote collaboration among a multi-disciplinary group of researchers on the drivers of behavioural and demographic variability across environmental gradients. The proposal will be coordinated by Mark Hewison (WP0), in close interaction with a multi-national steering committee, and consists of two main work packages. WP1 will develop the data base and facilitate its exploitation through developing its structure and functionality, providing support and training for users and updating the data base documentation and web site. The second work package (WP2) will stimulate scientific collaboration by building multi-partner projects during annual meetings, thematic virtual workshops and short-term visits between countries. We will initially prioritize analysis of how environmental gradients drive variation in movement behaviour, natal dispersal and mating tactics. For the medium term, we will set up thematic working groups to explore environmental drivers of variation in key demographic parameters, the genetic basis of phenotypic variation, the influence of roe deer movements on tick abundance and pathogens, and the influence of the recent return of large predators and of inter-specific interactions on roe deer life history tactics. EUROENET will promote the role of French scientists within this network and lead to the construction of an ambitious proposal to a European agency in the near future.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Mark Hewison (Comportement et Écologie de la Faune Sauvage)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CEFS Comportement et Écologie de la Faune Sauvage

Help of the ANR 69,116 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2014 - 24 Months

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