Special Seminar by Robin Sandfort next week- “Hiding in the woods – the European Roe deer”

This week we are featuring an update by PhD student Robin Sandfort, who we are very lucky to have with our research group this semester. 

To find out why this deer is hiding you have to follow me from North Carolina to the mountains of Austria. My name is Robin Sandfort and I am a PhD student at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU). My supervisor Klaus Hackländer is currently on his sabbatical year here at NC State. Thanks to Scott Mills and the Global Training Initiative (GTI) I got the opportunity to come to Raleigh and work on my PhD project for two months.

My research focuses on the ecology and management of the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in an Austrian mountain forest ecosystem. Changes in forest management and an increase of natural regeneration led to an improvement in food availability and cover for European roe deer in several mountainous areas in the Alps. Due to reduced roe deer visibility as well as behavioural responses to improved cover, hunting success decreased, suggesting that deer densities increased. We aimed to evaluate the effect of hunting pressure, habitat and climate variables on space use and visibility of roe deer in a mountain forest. We also used time-lapse cameras to continuously monitor roe deer visibility and equipped roe deer with GPS collars to gain information on activity levels and “invisible” movement. A second topic of my thesis deals with the impact of the abandonment of winter-feeding of roe deer on the population and the rejuvenation situation of the forest. Working together with colleagues from NC State gives me the great opportunity to learn new techniques and get new ideas on how to tackle ecological challenges in a rapidly changing world.