Climate effects on harvested large mammal populations

Abstract

The principle objective is to contribute towards a fundamental understanding of how climate affects large mammal populations directly and indirectly through food distribution and the harvesting process. The main novelty of our proposal is to address indirect effects of climate change operating through food distribution and the harvesting process on large mammal populations. A limitation of current knowledge is that most such data derive from large herbivores. We propose to addressing this question by comparing large herbivores being affected indirectly by plant distribution with a large omnivore potentially being affected by both plant and prey distribution. We generally aim to use a comparative approach to understand how three different processes feedback on each other; life histories (especially related to timing of events; WP1), behaviour (especially space use; WP2), and the harvesting process (WP3). Finally, we aim to review these linkages in WP4. As this topic has not been addressed at such a broad scale previously, we expect that the collective efforts of these top researchers working with the excellent databases that we have amassed will result in a quantum leap in our understanding of the effects of climate change on large mammals. The objective of this proposal is to bring together internationally leading experts on the importance of climate variation on the life history and behavior of large mammals. These large-mammal experts have made major advances in this area through their work on several species of large herbivores. We propose to expand this perspective by bringing this group together with members of the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project. We envision a fruitful and long-term cooperation that will result in an in-depth understanding of the effects of climate variation on life history and behavior that will allow us to predict population responses of large mammals generally to ongoing climate change and human harvesting. We predict that the combination of these strong researchers and their extensive datasets at CAS will result in a more comprehensive and integrated cooperation than would be possible through usual interproject cooperation. This cooperation strengthens the scientific environments of the participating Norwegian institutions.

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