Zoning has little impact on the seasonal diel activity and distribution patterns of wild boar ( Sus scrofa ) in an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Understanding the spatio-temporal distribution of ungulates is important for effective wildlife management, particularly for economically and ecologically important species such as wild boar (Sus scrofa). Wild boars are generally considered to exhibit substantial behavioral flexibility, but it is unclear how their behavior varies across different conservation management regimes and levels of human pressure. To analyze if and how wild boars adjust their space use or their temporal niche, we surveyed wild boars across the core and buffer zones (collectively referred to as the conservation zone) and the transition zone of a biosphere reserve. These zones represent low and high levels of human pressure, respectively. Specifically, we employed a network of 53 camera traps distributed in the Schaalsee UNESCO Biosphere Reserve over a 14-month period (19,062 trap nights) and estimated circadian activity patterns, diel activity levels, and occupancy of wild boars in both zones. To account for differences in environmental conditions and day length, we estimated these parameters separately for seven 2-month periods. Our results showed that the wild boars were primarily nocturnal, with diurnal activity occurring dominantly during the summer months. The diel activity patterns in the two zones were very similar overall, although the wild boars were slightly less active in the transition zone than in the conservation zone. Diel activity levels also varied seasonally, ranging from 7.5 to 11.0 h day−1, and scaled positively with the length of the night (R2 = 0.66–0.67). Seasonal occupancy estimates were exceptionally high (point estimates ranged from 0.65 to 0.99) and similar across zones, suggesting that the wild boars used most of the biosphere reserve. Overall, this result suggests that different conservation management regimes (in this case, the zoning of a biosphere reserve) have little impact on wild boar behavior. This finding is relevant for wildlife management in protected areas where possibly high wild boar densities could interfere with conservation goals within these areas and those of agricultural land use in their vicinity.