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Dörr, Maximilian, 2024. The effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on the spatial ecology of moose in an area with high recreational activity. Second cycle, A2E. Umeå: SLU, Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

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Abstract

In diverse landscapes, the coexistence of wildlife habitat requirements and human land use often leads to conflicts, posing challenges for sustainable species management. Recreational activities, especially in sparsely populated areas, frequently disturb wildlife behavior, necessitating a comprehensive assessment of anthropogenic impacts on habitats.

The global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 drastically reduced human activities, notably travel, resulting in improved environmental conditions and a resurgence of wildlife in urban areas. This study explores the pandemic's impact on large ungulates, with a focus on moose (Alces alces) in a northern Swedish region (67°51'N, 19°0'W) heavily influenced by nature tourism.

Utilizing GPS data from 20 tagged adult moose over a four-year span, I investigated temporal and spatial changes in moose behavior before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdown. The study concentrated on two valleys with varying levels of human activities. Surprisingly, the results indicate that moose did not significantly respond to the reduction in recreational activity during the lockdown. There were no discernible changes in habitat use, moose activity, or proximity to human infrastructure associated with the lockdown. This unexpected outcome may be attributed to Sweden's pandemic policy, where increased free time and a sharp decline in foreign tourism sustained the appeal of local nature use, mitigating the anticipated decrease in tourism levels. Local biological and ecological factors further complicated the distinction between natural and anthropogenic influences on moose behavior.

Future research could investigate visitor numbers and weather influences in Nikkaluokta to gain a more nuanced understanding for formulating management strategies aimed at minimizing interactions between recreational use and the moose population. For example, when expanding recreational areas in moose habitats, more consideration can be given to the needs of the moose.

Keywords: Moose, Alces alces, habitat selection, tourism, human disturbance, activity, movement, speed, seasons, Covid-19, pandemic

Main title:The effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on the spatial ecology of moose in an area with high recreational activity
Authors:Dörr, Maximilian
Supervisor:Neumann Sivertsson, Wiebke
Examiner:Widemo, Fredrik
Series:Examensarbete i ämnet biologi / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för vilt, fisk och miljö
Volume/Sequential designation:2024:1
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:Other
Supervising department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Keywords:Moose, Alces alces, habitat selection, tourism, human disturbance, activity, movement, speed, seasons, Covid-19, pandemic
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-19778
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-19778
Language:English
Deposited On:15 Mar 2024 08:28
Metadata Last Modified:16 Mar 2024 02:00

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