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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2010 str. 50     <-- 50 -->        PDF


ses of capercaillie decline in their distribution area in
temperate Europe (Klaus etal. 1997;Storch 1999,
2007;Saniga 2002, 2004;Thiel etal. 2007). Especially
at the population edges disturbances led to a severe
population reduction or to their complete
destruction (Poolo et al. 2005, Quevedo et al.
2006; Blanco-Fontao et al. 2009). Similar trends
were observed in temperate and in optimal boreal habitats.
In boreal forests the fragmentation of habitats due
to forest logging was recognised as the main cause of
population decline (Rolstad and Wegge 1987; Beškarevetal.
1995;Kurkietal. 2000;Angelstam
2004;Grafetal. 2007).

Capercaillie habitat in Slovenia occupies the southeastern
edge of its distribution range in theAlps (90% of
total habitat) and north-western edge in the Dinaric
Mountains (south-east Europe) (10% of total habitat),
con necting both large mountain regions (Adamič
1987; Čas 2006).Thecapercaillie habitats in Slovenia
can be found in old coniferous and mixed forests (spruce,
fir, beech) where leks are distributed in chains on the slopes
or in networks on forest plateaus (Čas and Adamič
1998;Purnat etal. 2005).The density of active
leks depends on the site suitability (Čas andAdamič
1998; Braunisch and Suchant 2008) and on the
conservation status and structures of the forest ecosystem
(Čas 2001).An observed mean distance (median)
among leks in the studied and representing suitable habitat
complexes is about 1.250 m between two lek centres
(ČasandAdamič1998;Purnatetal. 2007).

In general, capercaillie population size is decreasing.
Asevere drop of population for 37% (over 50%
decrease of active leks) on about 290 leks with active
subpopulations of about 1250 birds in year 2000 was
noted through the intensive monitoring in years 1980
and 2000 (Čas 2001).The hunting of capercaillie in
Slovenia was prohibited by Slovenian HunterAssociation,
since 1984, after the Bird directive (1979) and
was protected with law since 1993 (Official Gazette of
RS 1993/57) but the current population situation still
remains unsatisfactory (Čas 2001) and urges for a
deeper review of potential threats.

The aim of the study was to estimate main reasons
for a decline of active leks and role of predation in capercaillie
habitats shrinking and species extinct with
adapted forest and wildlife management.The study is
based on the population monitoring in years about
1980 and 2000.Available data on the causes for capercaillie
lek decline in the area of SlovenianAlps and Dinaric
Mountains was investigated, and a yearly
dynamics of predators and their removal from population
by hunting statistics was recorded and correlated
to lek decline. We gratefully accepted the idea for a
deeper review of potential causes of lek decline given
by an open email question raised in July 2008 by Prof.

D. Jenkins, the IUCN Grouse Specialist Group
member and researcher, who suggested a special focus
on the influence of animal predation at leks.

STUDYAREAAND METHODS – Područje istraživanja i metode rada


The study area covered about 20.000 km, mainly the
Alpine and the Dinaric habitats in Slovenia.Weincluded
all altitudes from the low elevation population at 400 m the high altitude at the forest line (about 1700 m
a.s.l.).The capercaillie population and decline was studied
in two 3-years periods with an aggregated data for
year 1980 and 2000. In the first period we analyzed 466
leks and in the second period 599 leks. Capercaillie leks
and subpopulations densities were monitored in several
research projects taking part at the Slovenian Forestry
Institute since 1980(Adamič 1987, Čas2000).

Disturbances at leks were noted as a descriptive parametres
of the monitoring questionnaire, where each
expert in fields stated the main reasons for lek or subpopulation
decline for each endangered or extinct lek.
All together 460 experts (hunters and/or foresters) studied
leks for three consecutive years in both monitoring
periods. Reasons for lek subpopulations decline or
dead were recorded. From available questionnaires we
extracted and summarised nine most frequent reasons

for lek subpopulation disturbance and damage (Table

1) and use them for comparison among monitoring pe

riods and statistics.

Tosupport predation as one of frequently stated reasons
for capercaillie population decline at leks, we analy sed
predator’spopulation density from hunting statistics
data, similarly as suggested by Adamič (1974) or
Storch etal. (2005).Available information on hunting
statistics for hunted (shot or otherwise removed) animals
from population were obtained from theAnnual
statistics reports of hunting game (Slovenian Hunters
Association / SHA/). Data for martens (Martes foina
Erx. andMartes martesL.), wild boar (Sus scrofaL.),
red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.) as potential predators were
analysed for 5 years corresponding to each capercaillie
leks monitoring period.The data for lynx (Lynx lynxL.)
and raptors removal were not analysed since only sporadically
named as a reason for lek disturbance.