Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Roe deer mandibles as a bioindicator of environmental quality and a tool for population management

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
7.00.00  Interdisciplinary research     

Code Science Field
B430  Biomedical sciences  Sylviculture, forestry, forestry technology 
roe deer, mandibles, dental fluorosis, fluorides, jaw size, environmental pollution, bioindication, population dynamic, habitat quality, actinomycosis, tumours, age determination of roe deer, demographic characteristics of population, survival curves, large carnivores
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (11)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  19898  MSc Andreja Bienelli Kalpič  Biology  Researcher  2008 - 2009  62 
2.  29582  PhD Ida Jelenko Turinek  Control and care of the environment  Junior researcher  2008 - 2011  166 
3.  22515  PhD Klemen Jerina  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2008 - 2011  449 
4.  06960  PhD Ivan Kos  Biology  Researcher  2008 - 2011  562 
5.  18112  PhD Boštjan Pokorny  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Head  2008 - 2011  887 
6.  23000  PhD Helena Poličnik  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2008 - 2011  217 
7.  18628  PhD Hubert Potočnik  Biology  Researcher  2008 - 2011  286 
8.  13639  Karin Savinek  Biology  Researcher  2008 - 2011  73 
9.  31551  Matija Stergar    Technical associate  2010 - 2011  125 
10.  15165  MSc Julija Vrbovšek  Chemistry  Researcher  2008 - 2009  1,004 
11.  23168  Marjeta Zaluberšek    Technical associate  2008 - 2011  98 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,255 
2.  1007  Eurofins ERICo Slovenija Inštitut za ekološke raziskave d.o.o. (Slovene)  Velenje  5583055000  2,451 
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.) represents the most important game species in the majority of European countries; moreover, it is also one of the most suitable species for bioindication of environmental pollution in terrestrial ecosystems. For recording of annual hunting bag and for categorisation of eliminated (hunted) animals their mandibles (lower jaws) are collected annually by game managers; these mandibles have a tremendous potential for either scientists, ecologists or wildlife managers. Indeed, jaws provide basic information on: (a) environmental pollution with some inorganic pollutants (such as fluorides) by enabling both accumulative as well as reactive bioindicative approaches; (b) exposure and responses of populations to different toxic substances (e.g. appearance of different severity of dental fluorosis); (c) population dynamics and changes in nutrient quality of habitats (measurements of jaw’s size); (d) health status and vitality of animals; (e) demographic characteristics of populations. However, no single potential of roe deer mandibles have been used in Slovenia so far; therefore, the main goals of the project – based on extremely large number of samples (i.e. complete yearly national hunting bags) – are as follows: (i) determination of dental fluorosis as an early warning and sensitive bioindicator of environmental pollution by fluorides; (ii) measurements of selected parameters of mandibular size, which may be a reliable bioindicator of changes in population densities and consequently also a useful tool in population management; (iii) determination of spatial distribution and prevalence of bone actinomycosis (an important bacterial infection of roe deer), unusual bone formations (tumours) and mandible’s fractures, which might influence both vitality of a single animal as well as viability of populations; (iv) determination of demographic characteristics of populations and preparation of several models, which will enable understanding of the influence of either hunting or predation on the population dynamic in roe deer; (v) detailed cause-effect data analysis in the GIS environment on a very high spatial resolution scale (1 x 1 km grid). The proposed project should contribute to: (i) development of a bioindication as a basic research field; (ii) understanding of the influence of different environmental and population factors/characteristics on the population dynamic of roe deer; (iii) better management with populations of both roe deer and its predators, which will result in a sustainable exploitation of game populations as a renewable natural resources and will consequently contribute to the preservation of the natural heritage as well.
Significance for science
The project bears great importance for the development of bioindication as a basic field of scientific research. By intensifying anthropogenic pressures upon the environment different bioindicative methods and approaches are becoming more and more important instruments for the determination of the exposure to different forms of environmental stress (especially pollution). Therefore, a new, original, cost benefit and widely-applicable approach/method for Slovenia (determination of prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis) as well as already known but in Slovenia never used method of accumulative bioindication (measurements of fluoride contents) with the use of roe deer mandibles are very important tools for obtaining new scientific knowledge on temporal trends in fluoride pollution of the environment. Indeed, with the project it was proven that both methods can be successfully used for bioindication of the environment with fluorides and that both of them can extremely well show spatial as well as temporal variability in environmental burdens with these compounds. Moreover, the project emphasised the importance of roe deer as a suitable species for bioindication with the possibility of contemporary assessment of the exposure and reaction of the animals to environmental pollution (i.e. dose-response approach). Very important for the science is also almost new approach (using dental fluorosis) in Europe: determination of co-dependence between population exposure and influential factors by GIS and multivariate analyses, which brought to new scientific findings about influence of different environmental factors on population exposure to fluorides as an important chemical agents. Knowledge on temporal trends and preparation of pollution maps with a high spatial resolution have also an important applied value, which will facilitate the convincing of target groups (to help assuring co-financing), the latter being polluters and potential users, about the meaning and relevance of bioindication as a scientific discipline. Moreover, the project is also very important for getting new knowledge on wildlife ecology, since the influence of both habitat and population parameters on vitality of individuals, demographic characteristics and population dynamics is assessed by using some new and up-to-date modelling tools.
Significance for the country
Roe deer is a widespread animal species and samples can be easily and ethically accessible, therefore roe deer tissues/organs are very suitable for pan-Slovene or even pan-European and biologically relevant determination of environmental pollution. Principles, which are used in the project, can be generally applied for determination of environmental pollution with other pollutants (e.g. creation of pollution maps also for metals and organic pollutants). Therefore, the project is interesting also for representatives of large pollution point sources as well as for local communities in polluted Slovene regions. The Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (ŠTPP) is one of the largest emitters of fluorides in Slovenia. It directs itself to an environmentally friendly production of electricity (the basic strategy of the co-financer), what requires a risk-assessment for living organisms; in this respect, knowledge about the mass balances and flows in ecosystems is of an essential importance. Historical biomonitoring enables assessment of effectiveness of remediation measures done at the power plant; moreover, assessment of recent exposure of wildlife populations provides basic input data for monitoring changes in populations’ exposure and their responses after the realisation of some of the very ambitious projects and investments, such as building of a new unit in the ŠTPP in the near future. Results of environmental projects may contribute to formation of environmental policy on local, national and international level. Bioindication methods are very important since they represent an early-warning system for controlling responses of living organisms to different stressors, including pollutants. Consequently, results may help both local and national authorities to execute some protective measures on potentially critically burdened areas (in the case of fluorides, such area is around Kidričevo as shown in a very this project), and therefore contribute to preservation of biodiversity and living organisms as an important element of natural heritage. For this issue, a sustainable exploitation of game populations as a renewable natural resource is necessary as well, which can be achieved only by the help of permanent monitoring of any intervention made in populations. Our results provide backgrounds for optimising the number of animals to be annually culled, which should ensure better stability/viability of wildlife populations and ecosystems as a whole (preservation of the natural heritage); on the other hand, this may also result in a better economic outcome of the game management. Indeed, an important contribution to better management of ungulate populations may have measurements of mandibular size, which enable implementation of a new, simple and reliable indicator in the control method. Moreover, new knowledge on the population biology (e.g. demography) of roe deer as an important prey species may be of an essential importance for determining the most appropriate strategy for the population management, which emphasises also the conservation of large carnivores as a very important part of the Slovene natural heritage. Slovenia has probably the best hunting statistics all over Europe (central hunting information system etc.); therefore, realisation of such a project, on such a comprehensive way and with such a high spatial resolution (1x1 km grid) is possible in Slovenia only. Such an extraordinary situation ensures per se a huge promotion of our country within both international scientific and professional auditorium. Established international co-operation ensures an outsized possibility for reaching the foreign knowledge as well as for education of our own excellent researchers, who may take a leading role within the European scientific community in the near future. The last issue is a perquisite for establishing a large research centre in a very this research field, which will be well-recognized within the whole European research arena.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2008, 2009, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2008, 2009, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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