Wild Ungulates as Forest Engineers

Samenvatting (Engelstalig)

Wild ungulates are known for being keystone species and forest engineers as they modify the environment through browsing, trampling, fraying and seed dispersing. However, on the northern hemisphere ungulates are expanding in range and density due to abandonment of agricultural fields, reduced competition with domestic animals and absence of predators, creating a great pressure on natural systems. With a series of experiments that involved camera traps, litter bags and animal exclosures in the Veluwe (the Netherlands), I aimed to understand the effects of wild ungulates on forest structure, composition and functioning. Our results are essential for understanding the role of ungulates in temperate forest and hence, for designing accurate and effective policies that help conserve temperate forests and its biodiversity.