Population Ecology of Deer

Since the late 70ies, the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS) has been conducting long-term monitoring of roe deer and red deer in France. From annual capture-mark-recaptures, individual life histories of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) have been accumulating at Chizé and Trois-Fontaines. A sister project has been running at La Petite Pierre for the red deer (Cervus elaphus).

First intented for improving the management of game species, the >30 years continued collection of information about individual deer turned out to be, at the same time, the major material for conducting research in ecology on large mammalian herbivores in France. The ensuing long-term collaboration with researchers (CNRS, INRA, IRSTEA) led to an impressive, still-growing, body of biological knowledge on the behaviour, the evolution of life histories, and the population dynamics of roe and red deer. This is where Jean-Michel Gaillard and myself are contributing actively.

Far from being forgotten, the initial goal of conducting applied research was fullfilled with the development of indicators of ecological changes (IEC). IEC are an innovative way of monitoring wildlife and facilitating its management. For a comprehensive description and how-to, ICE are described at length by Morellet et al. [2007] in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Our current research projects on deer population ecology are:

  1. Population dynamics and evolution of reproductive tactics in female roe deer
  2. Cohort effects: demographic and evolutionary processes
  3. Use of mixed information for modelling red deer populations

Responses of Mammals to Climate Change

Recent changes in the earth's climate have been linked with changes in distribution, size and performance of many animal populations. Understanding these changes is critical for environmental scientists if we are to predict what will happen to animal populations under climate change. Many studies of bird populations have documented changes in phenology, or timing, with changing climate, such as earlier breeding seasons, but far fewer examples exist from mammal populations.

Movement, Behaviour & Ecology

Do you know that Apple continuously tracks your location by collecting this information from your iDevice? Think twice, by simply adding those locations onto a map, anyone can easily guess what you have been doing and where. Bad isn't it? Well, we do the same on deer too... at least we try! Using GPS collars, our goal is to infer animal behaviour, such as mating, foraging or resting, based on its location, movements or space use. These research rely almost entirely on the EURODEER collaborative database led by Francesca Cagnacci.

  1. Ecological correlates of home range in roe deer
  2. Mating behaviour of male roe deer: caracterisation and individual correlates

On Deer and Humans: the Eternal Fight


We, humans, are currently the main evolutionary driving force. Human-related activities such as CO2 production, harvesting, landscape use and modification all affect animals be it directly (hunting) or indirectly (climate change). By doing so, humans may artifically select for individuals presenting particular phenotypes, such as large antlers or horns, or specific behaviour. Human may also force animals to change space use for sheltering, feeding or simply avoiding human presence. Some species are quite successful at coping with human activity while others simply give up and disapear. We try to understand why.

Current projects on this topic are:

  1. Quantification of artificial selection by recreational hunting
  2. Vehicule--wildlife collisions: risk mitigation and behavioural adjustment by animals
  3. Historical and contemporary colonisation of France by red deer: ecological and human-related constrains