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Distribution and Habitat Selection of Free-Ranging European Bison (Bison bonasus L.) in a Mosaic Landscape—A Lithuanian Case

1
Faculty of Forest Science and Ecology, Vytautas Magnus University, Studentų str. 11, LT-53361 Akademija, Kauno r., Lithuania
2
Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Fr. R. Kreutzwaldi 5, 51006 Tartu, Estonia
3
Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 115 Green Hall, 1530 Cleveland Avenue North, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(4), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10040345
Received: 14 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Disturbance Dynamics Analysis for Forest Ecosystem Management)
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Abstract

In Lithuania, free-ranging European bison live sedentarily in the fragmented landscape of the central part of the country. The aim of this study was to analyze the distribution and habitat selection of European bison in a semi-isolated territory. Free-ranging European bison living sedentarily have formed six groups in the mosaic landscape of central Lithuania. A herd of 34 individuals of European bison entered into a new semi-isolated territory in 2016. During the snow-free season, we tracked the movements of the herd by fitting a global positioning system (GPS) collar to the leading cow. To evaluate the home range and habitat selection, we used ArcGIS software, Jacobs’ index, and chi-square testing to verify significant differences between proportions. The home range of European bison was largest in spring, decreased in summer, and increased again in autumn; this was associated with feeding and the food supply in agricultural lands. European bison spent more time in the forest, especially during the daytime, due to disturbance, but in summer time and at night, the bison did not avoid agricultural land. In the forests, European bison preferred clear-cut, small-leaved deciduous (aspen, grey alder) forests of middle and mature age, but they avoided broad-leaved deciduous (ash), coniferous, and young forests. The increased number of European bison caused damage to agricultural crops and increased conflict with farmers. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural land; clear-cut; crops; forest; home-range agricultural land; clear-cut; crops; forest; home-range
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Marozas, V.; Kibiša, A.; Brazaitis, G.; Jõgiste, K.; Šimkevičius, K.; Bartkevičius, E. Distribution and Habitat Selection of Free-Ranging European Bison (Bison bonasus L.) in a Mosaic Landscape—A Lithuanian Case. Forests 2019, 10, 345.

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