WP4: Biodiversity and hunting
- the ecological perspective
Exploring the impact of hunting on biodiversity by considering the sustainability of different harvesting strategies, and examining how game management influences various aspects of the wider biodiversity.
About hunting, sustainable harvesting and consequences for biodiversity
Hunting and the management of hunting have profound effects on the landscape and its biodiversity, including both positive and negative outcomes. However, sustainable hunting is not necessarily a contradiction in terms. The maintenance of natural areas is an essential requirement to sustain and produce wild game. Hunting may thus aid the conservation of highly valued landscapes and associated species. On the other hand, excessive hunting may lead to a loss of game, a change in land use and corresponding loss of valued landscapes and biodiversity. Moreover, the economic and social pressures that lead to a desire to have high densities of game, may also lead to management regimes that negatively affect biodiversity. For example, the legal and illegal control of some predators that prey on game has led to their subsequent elimination from large areas, with potentially cascading effects through the ecosystem. Furthermore, where hunting management is intensive, practices such as restocking game populations, introducing new, alien species for hunting, or artificially increasing natural densities of game through fencing or food provisioning may also have a potentially large impact on landscapes, habitats and species. Thus, there are both biodiversity costs and benefits associated with hunting.
As yet, no comprehensive assessment of the overall effect of hunting on biodiversity has been made. HUNT will explore the impact of hunting on harvested species and also the cascading impacts of hunting on wider biodiversity, using novel techniques developed from fisheries to integrate management and biological dynamics into a single modeling framework. These operating model approaches aim to support the management process by explicitly modeling not just biological processes and the interaction between individual hunters and prey, but also the process of monitoring the system, devising management strategies and then their implementation in the real world.