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Occurrence and activity of roe deer in urban forests of Warsaw
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 1 , 1
1  Warsaw University of Life Sciences
2  Forest Research Institute


Although ungulates avoid human disturbances, roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is recently observed more often in cities. Human presence or activities are perceived by animals as those associated with predation risk so activity and exploration patterns of animals should be shaped by indices of anthropogenic disturbances. The high level of human disturbances is noticed in big cities, therefore, the aim of the study was to determine the occurrence of roe deer in the capital of Poland and it’s activity in the urban forests of Warsaw, one of the biggest capital cities of Europe. We hypothesized that (1) roe deer inhabits more often forests than other habitats in the city, (2) daily activity of roe deer is higher in nights (between 10:00 pm and 06:00 am), when the level of human disturbances is lower, (3) considering moon phases, roe deer is more active during dark nights than bright nights. We used snow tracking on transect routes (winter seasons 2016, 2017, 2018, 115.1 km in total) to determine roe deer occurrence in four habitats, potentially used by this species in the city: forests, open areas, parks, and built-up areas. The number of tracks was highest in forests (4,6 tracks/1km/24hr), followed by open areas, built-up areas, and parks. We used camera traps to determine the activity of roe deer in selected urban forests. We collected 697 observations of roe deer in Warsaw forests in the years 2016-2019 (per 4826 trap-days in total). The peak of roe deer activity was noticed between 04:00 and 05:00 am. The animals were least active at 1:00-2:00 pm and between 11:00 pm-01:00 am. Roe deer was more active during dark nights than bright nights (42% and 30% observations, respectively). Our research showed that roe deer inhabiting the urban area avoided human presence by using well-covered habitats and being active in periods when humans' disturbances level is lower.

Keywords: Capreolus capreolus; ungulate; urban forests; human disturbances; daily activity; moon phases