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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Distribution, abundance, population trends and potentional expansion of golden jackal (Canis aureus L.) v Sloveniji

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.03  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology  Ecosystems 

Code Science Field
B280  Biomedical sciences  Animal ecology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
Keywords
jackal, Canis aureus, monitoring, expansion, distribution, hybridisation, genotyping, nutrition, species management, education, attitude
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (11)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  35362  PhD Katarina Flajšman  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  186 
2.  32896  PhD Irena Kavčič  Biology  Technical associate  2016 - 2018  60 
3.  17424  Franc Kljun    Technical associate  2016 - 2018  55 
4.  32058  PhD Marjeta Konec  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  72 
5.  06960  PhD Ivan Kos  Biology  Head  2016 - 2018  562 
6.  11595  PhD Tomislav Levanič  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  614 
7.  29812  MSc Aleksandra Majić Skrbinšek  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2016 - 2018  157 
8.  18112  PhD Boštjan Pokorny  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  887 
9.  18628  PhD Hubert Potočnik  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  286 
10.  25992  PhD Tomaž Skrbinšek  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  228 
11.  30892  PhD Saša Zavadlav  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  50 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0404  Slovenian Forestry Institute  Ljubljana  5051673000  11,992 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,255 
3.  2872  Faculty of Environmental Protection   Velenje  2257092  3,426 
Abstract
In the last decades, golden jackal (Canis aureus) has been successfully spreading from the Balkan Peninsula towards Central and Eastern Europe, and today its presence is known in 30 European countries. Spreading of the distribution range is followed by a rapid increase in abundance of jackal in all countries/areas settled by the species, and population size has been fastly increasing since 1990s. A similar trend is significant also for Slovenia, which is confirmed by more and more often observations of jackals, and the distribution range has been spreading as well. Recently, by using the acoustic method (provoking of howling) either territorial groups or single animals were found at several locations almost all around Slovenia. Increase in number and spatial distribution of jackal may lead to several conflicts, connected with human interests/activities (e.g. breeding of domestic animals, management of autochthonous game species). Despite the rapid increase in abundance and spatial distribution of golden jackal, the research on this species is still lacking. Up to date, there has been no scientific studies on biology/ecology of the jackal in Slovenia; there is also almost no relevant data from neighbouring and adjacent countries. Since the increase of the abundance of golden jackal in Slovenia is a recent phenomenon, there is a missing knowledge about the species, its ecosystem role, interspecific interactions, effects on other species, population dynamics and the ability to spread in the suitable environment etc. There is a strong need for a wider social discussion and consensus about the expected objectives concerning the species, which is a perquisite for a proper population management. Indeed, in the moment the national legislation considering jackal is in an evident collision – the species was declared as a game species in 2014, but at the same time it is on the list of protected species. Such status – in spite of increasing trend and the fact that the jackal is non-protected or harvested species in 11 EU countries – disenables active management of the species. However, the last would be possible after the implementation of the monitoring programme, which will provide adequate data on the population status and parameters (e.g. abundance, distribution, reproductive potential, genetic diversity etc.), viability, the most important colonization ways, interspecific interactions, influences of jackal on native species and on damages to domestic animals. The need for immediate start of researches on and particularly of the systematic monitoring of the jackal was recently recognised by Hunters Association of Slovenia (LZS), which provided starting grants for preparing professional backgrounds, i.e. draft of the programme of the monitoring of golden jackal. A similar need was recognised also at the recent conference “Monitoring in game management: importance, possibilities and challenges” (Jablje near Mengeš, 14 May 2016), where the following conclusion was accepted: “As for all game species, it is very important that the monitoring of jackal population is based on integration of hunters who are obliged to provide monitoring as a public service; moreover, the monitoring has to be based on suitable scientific backgrounds”. The main goals are as follows (working packages (WP) are defined in accordance to these goals): (1) Determination of the status of golden jackal (in Slovenia and in neighbouring countries) by using the criteria from the Habitat Directive, i.e. by: (i) studying all influential factors that may affect both abundance and distribution of jackal on a long-term basis; (ii) testing whether data on population dynamic reveal that the species is able to survive on a long-term basis in the Slovene environment; (iii) preparing comprehensive overview of status, viability of populations and trends in neighbouring and adjacent countries, which would enable understanding the status and expected population dynamic of golden j
Significance for science
Despite the rapid increase in abundance and spatial distribution of golden jackal, the research on this species is still lacking. Up to date, there has been no scientific studies on biology/ecology of the jackal in the area of Slovenia; there is also almost no relevant data from neighbouring and adjacent countries. However, some preliminary studies have been made there (e.g. in Serbia), such as determination of the feeding strategies of the species. Those studies took place in a short period of time, and due to very different environmental conditions results obtained could not be directly applied in Slovenia. Since the increase of the abundance of golden jackal in Slovenia is a recent phenomenon (of the last decade), there is a missing knowledge about the species, its ecosystem role, interspecific interactions, effects on other species, population dynamics and the ability to spread in the suitable environment etc. However, there is a strong need for a wider social discussion or consensus about the expected objectives concerning the species, which is a perquisite for a proper management of the species. The implementation of the project will provide new knowledge on the biology/ecology of jackal in Slovenia and also in a broader Alpine-Dinaric and Pannonian region. New findings will be especially important for the end-users and the development of the profession (see chapter 21.3 for details) as well as for the science. We expect new scientific findings in the following research areas: genetic characteristics of golden jackal in Alpine-Dinaric and Pannonian area, including the level of hybridisation with other species from Canidae family; characteristics and spatial overlap of suitable jackal habitats with habitats of other Canidae species, e.g. wolf; feeding behaviour of jackal, including the development of the method for determination of jackal (and other predator species) diet, based on the analysis of the stable isotope ratios. The scientific findings from the mentioned topics will be presented in at least three scientific papers that will be published in internationally recognized journals. We expect high international impact of these publications, i.e. high citation, as the species as an invader is currently very important and “sexy” in the Central European region. High reliability of gaining new knowledge and scientific findings as well as development of the management strategies is supported by: (i) good and already established cooperation of the members of the project team with the key end-users (hunters), who are the most important co-workers on the field as they will cooperate in monitoring and collecting the data; (ii) foreseen on-line system for recording observations of the jackal in the field, which will be created during the project execution; (iii) implementation of some contemporary research methods (e.g. genetic analyses, determination of feeding characteristics by analysing stable isotopes), that have been rarely or even never used before in the case of jackal in the Central European region; (iv) integrative and interdisciplinary approach by cooperation among researchers from three Slovene research institutions, which are leading in the field of game research. The interdisciplinary group integrates knowledge from biotechnology, natural sciences and social sciences, which provides complementary approach and synergistic refinement of the collected data. The cooperation of the research institutions, which are leading in the field of game research, is important for the domestic scientific and professional development, which in addition to the positive impact on development of the interdisciplinary research in Slovenia also provides an excellent starting point for the development of an important research area (wildlife research), which has been neglected in the past. Cooperation with researchers from Croatia (Faculties of Forestry, Agronomy and Veterinary in Zagreb, and Faculty of Agronomy in Osijek) and Serbia (F
Significance for the country
Realisation of the project is important for a broader society particularly considering the conservation of the natural heritage, i.e. both in terms of conservation of the golden jackal as an invading species as well as conservation of autochthonous species, which may be influenced by the jackal either directly (by predation) or indirectly (by modifying trophic cascades). For the conservation of the biodiversity (as one of the most important issues relating to conservation of the natural heritage), it is important to have professional, scientifically based management of wildlife populations, which must be based on knowledge of ecological roles of target species and their interactions with other species, including humans. Due to gathering of many yet missing data on the golden jackal in Slovenia as well as in a broader Alpine-Dinaric and Pannonian region (e.g. predation pressure on prey species), the project realisation would significantly contribute to the protection of biodiversity in all areas that are potentially suitable for colonization of jackals. Totally new and from Slovenian environment originated knowledge and data would enable adopting of suitable management decisions, including those for reducing number and extend of conflicts, which are expected to increase in the future by increasing population densities and expansion of the of the golden jackal range in Slovenia. Due to mentioned outcomes the realisation of a very this project is of a high interest of the Republic of Slovenia (the owner of game/wildlife species), responsible authorities in game-management planning (Slovenia Forest Service) as well as population managers (hunters and hunting organisations at all levels). Indeed, recent non-possibility of an active management of the jackal population may pose serious problems and headaches to all of them, including redirecting their priorities in issues which should not be the most important within their responsibilities and tasks.   Huge importance of the project for the state authorities is confirmed by the fact, that the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Food as responsible ministry for game species and population management selected this topic as a priority issue which would be co-financed within the CRP programme. In the process of preparing and confirming annual hunting management plans for hunting management districts the Ministry faces the trouble that the golden jackal is by Slovene legislation defined as a game species, but it is at the same time also on the list of protected species. Although it is invading species, for which observations from the field show that both abundance and distribution range have been permanently increasing, the discrepancy in the legal status of the species disenables its active management. A perquisite for the management in such circumstances is a suitable, scientifically-based monitoring of the species, which would provide crucial data on (favourable) status of the population, on population dynamic, on potential spreading of the distribution range as well as on expected impacts of management actions on viability of population. Therefore, the monitoring of the golden jackal which is needed for annulling the collision between two legislations (from the field of nature conservation vs. hunting and game legislation) is strongly supported also by population managers who have already expressed their willingness to support the project realisation by providing adequate infrastructural environment as well as by integration in monitoring per se as a valuable field co-workers. Their willingness to collaborate in the project realisation is confirmed by letters of support, signed by responsible authorities of both key institutions in the field of game management, i.e. Hunters Association of Slovenia and Slovenia Forest Service (see appendix). Last but not the least, the need for starting the monitoring of the golden jackal is confirmed also by the conclusion No. 6, accepted at the re
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report
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