Accepted Manuscripts / Estimating wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) population ...
Estimating wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) population size using faecal DNA and capture-recapture modelling
Cornelia Ebert, Felix Knauer, Bernhard Thiele, Bettina Spielberger & Ulf Hohmann
Increasing populations of wild boar and feral domestic pigs Sus scrofa L. have evoked growing concern due to their potential as disease reservoir and as an origin of agricultural damages. Reliable population estimates are needed for effective management measures of this species. As an alternative to traditional methods, non-invasive genetic population estimation approaches based on hair or faeces sampling have yielded promising results for several species in terms of feasibility and precision. We developed and applied a non-invasive population estimation approach based on wild boar faeces in a study area situated in the Palatinate Forest, south western Germany. Five hundred and fifteen faeces samples were collected along transects in January 2008. Genotyping was carried out using six microsatellite markers to discriminate between individuals.During the trial, 149 individual wild boar were identified. Using multimodel inference and model averaging, we obtained relatively consistent estimates. Population densities calculated using the estimated population sizes ranged from 4.5 (2.9 – 7.8) to 5.0 (4.0 – 7.0) wild boar per km². In the future, to further improve the precision of population estimates based on wild boar faeces, the detection probability should be increased. However, even when comparing a conservative population estimate to the hunting bag, results show that the present hunting regime in our study area is not effective in regulating the wild boar population. The method presented here offers a tool to calibrate hunting or other management measures for wild boar.
Key words: Genotyping; individual identification; population density; transects; Bayesian estimate; sample size; wildlife management