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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2010 str. 52     <-- 52 -->        PDF


Table 2 Density of shot predator animals in Slovenia (1980–2000) (animals / 1000 ha)

Tablica 2.Gustoća odstrijeljenih jedinki u Sloveniji (1980–2000) (broj jedinki / 1000 ha)

Predation species
of wildlife
Average in 1980
(5 years) (shot
animals/1000 ha)
Average in 1990
(5 years) (shot
animals /1000 ha)
Average in 2000
(5 years) (shot
animals /1000 ha)
Trend of
Change of density
of shot animals
in age 1980–2000
Marten (Martes martes,
M. foina)
1.0 2.2 2.5 + +150%
Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) 4.3 2.6 3.5 + 18%
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) 0.8 1.8 2.0 + +150%


Cumulative results indicated high negative impact
on lek habitat suitability in the several main clusters of
reasons (Table 1, 2).

The main reasons for the decline in capercaillie population
density over the two decades since 1980 were
studied at leks and the endangerment by predation of
red fox, martens and wild boar were correlated with the
hunting statistics data. Research has included the area
of a suspended habitat corridor in the Central European
distribution range in Slovenia (Čas2006).Analyses of
data from lek monitoring questionnaires confirmed the
assessment of leks threats reasons on the basis of the
descriptions and experiences of observers as a good indicator
of the causes of risk habitats. Observations of
leks showed several causes for population decline. Different
land use on mountain landscapes and predator
densities turned out to be the main reasons causing a
gradual destruction of past subpopulations and their
retrieval to habitat remains of mix conifer forests in
colder and less accessible areas (Čas 2006; Čas and

An important cause of lek subpopulations died turned
out to be predation.This is one of the third main
reason for disturbance and destruction of lek habitats.
From 1980 to 2000 the predation at observed leks in
Slovenia raised from 2.6% to 18.5% (Table 1), mainly
ue to the habitat fragmentation (Kurki et al. 2000;
Andrén 1994) and an increase of predator populations
densities;Storchetal. 2005; Čas2006). Changes
of land use, nature conservation policies, hunting
management, a sustainable nature use and changes in
rural society structure and functioning in post industrial
society in various ways promoted predator species
(Angelstam etal. 2001; Čas 2001, 2006).With the
adoption of the Birds Directive (1979) and Habitat Directive
(1992), hunting of all raptors’species was banned
in Slovenia (Official Gazette of RS 1993/57). The
ban coincided with a decline in the popularity of fur
clothing.These actions changed the attitude and behaviour
of hunters towards predators as the important regulator
of grouse population densities. Population
density of many rare or generalist species of grouse
predators (fox, martens, wild boar, raptors, raven) therefore
(cyclically) increased (Lindström etal. 1994,
Budiansky 1995,Klaus etal. 1997, Cattadori and
Hudson 2000, Storch et al. 2005) and showed a
higher impact in predation at leks and a weaker breeding
success (Storaas et al. 1999, Saniga 2002,
Baines et al. 2004; Merta et al. 2009). The frequently
observed predator noted with a prey at observed
capercaillie leks were red fox, martens, lynx and
sporadically goshawk (Accipiter gentilisL.) and eagle
(Aquila chrysaetosL.). In one case lynx was noted as a
sporadic predator in 1980 at a single lek in Dinaric area
of Slovenia following its re-introduced (1973).Animal
killed all three males at one lek.This establishment of
predator pressure was confirmed by a pilot study of
predator tracks of red fox, martens and lynx in snow at
four capercaillie leks in SlovenianAlps (Dretnik et
al. 1999; Čas 2000). Observed lynx tracks were caused
by only one lynx pair yet, seen at the 20,000 hectares
area (which confirmed their mysteriously life and
waylaying strategy of plunder at promising locations).

The observation of predation at leks increases between
1980 and 2000 showed similarities with an increase
of negative influence of the few main predator of
wildlife populations’ density increase for 150% (martens,
wild boar) (Table 2). Population dynamics of red
fox showed a slight reduction in density (-18%), but the
data suggest the negative influence of cyclical trend of
33 –year cycle with minimum in 1990 and increase the
density of population about year 2000 (to 3.5 shoot animals/
1000 ha) (Čas 2006). However, the habitat fragmentation
and negative impact of red fox on capercaillie
population size after 1990 has increased, similar to the
martens and wild boar increase in Alps after 1980
(Storch etal. 2005; Čas2006).Additionally we assumed
the predators as one of the main reasons for capercaillie
density decline in open forestland in this part of
Europe. In summary we assumed a negative correlation
between predator species densities by hunting statistics
and capercaillie population density, as prey.

The predator pressure at leks has shown adapted
strategy for survey of capercaillie birds.The behaviour
of capercaillie birds caused by predator confirmed to
influence the fear of the subpopulation activities and
the change of the mating time at leks. In case of one
continuously observed lek with approximately five ac