The detection and quantification of deer populations for impact management on Thorne Moors, Humberhead Peatlands nature reserve

Logan, Thomas William

Biological sciences
November 2018

Thesis or dissertation

© 2018 Thomas William Logan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Wildlife management often requires adjusting the density of a specific species within the environment and are usually justified around meeting the objectives of landowners. This study focussed upon Thorne Moors (Humberhead Peatlands NNR) and the ecology of the deer species present on site: red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). This study evaluated deer activity and impact levels on site, estimated population abundances and habitat use, and tested a novel method of improving the daytime detection of deer.

This study utilised the deer activity and impact survey method used by The Deer Initiative; selected as a consistent method and allowing the data to incorporate into the annual reports of The Deer Initiative. The random encounter model was used to estimate abundance with trail cameras, and the utility of thermal imagers for the daytime detection of deer was tested by a series of transects.

Deer activity and impact was High and Moderate-High (respectively), with an estimated 311-333 red and 59-63 roe deer on site. Five Reeve’s muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) were observed during field studies, though none were detected by camera. The surveys with thermal imagers detected significantly more deer during the daytime than surveys with binoculars; and it was identified that the deer were more active at twilight then during hours of daylight.

The activity and impact of deer demonstrated that the red deer population was at too high a density (17km⁻²). The abundance estimates would assist in providing approximate targets for future culls. The selectivity index performed demonstrated that the deer were congregating on the “Waterway Footpaths” – providing a corridor on site for deer stalkers to consider active management. The deer were most active during the twilight and were best detected with a thermal imager; assisting the deer stalkers in locating optimal areas to be active.

School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, The University of Hull
Qualification level
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3 MB
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