Species selection and effect of red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) on shrublands at the Montes de Toledo range, central Spain

M. Fernández-Olalla, J. Muñoz-Igualada, M. Martínez-Jauregui, C. Rodríguez-Vigal, A. San Miguel-Ayanz

Abstract


Agroforestry systems (mosaics of woodlands, rangelands and croplands) managed for red deer rearing and hunting constitute a profitable and increasing form of land usage in Mediterranean Spain since the 1960s. As a consequence, stocking rates have increased dramatically and are now frequently over 50 individuals/km2. That situation has created a new problem of sustainability for that new type of agroforestry systems. This paper analyses the selection of woody species by red deer and the effect of that species on Mediterranean shrublands at the Montes de Toledo range in central Spain. Selection indexes were measured for 33 woody species by comparing percentages of utilization (browsing) with percentages of availability. Phillyrea angustifolia, Arbutus unedo and Quercus faginea showed the highest selection indexes while Thymus mastichina, Daphne gnidium and Pinus pinea showed the lowests ones. Food preferences showed no significant variation with different red deer stocking rates. The effect of red deer stocking rates around 35 individuals/km2 on woodlands and shrublands seems to be over the sustainability level even though sown pastures and croplands are available for red deer populations within the study area.

Keywords


browsing; stocking rate; carrying capacity; Mediterranean rangeland; sustainability; indicator



DOI: 10.5424/srf/2006153-00975

Webpage: www.inia.es/Forestsystems