Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Alien or native? How to distinguish feces of fallow and roe deer using central poland as a case study.

Abstract

The method of pellet group count is commonly used for estimating population trends of ungulates; however, in the case of species of similar body size, the misidentification rate can be high. Our aim was to find a metrical threshold between pellet groups of roe deer (native species) and fallow deer (alien species) to be applied during fieldwork. The study was conducted in spring 2020 and 2021 in central Poland (lowlands) in areas were only roe or fallow deer occurred. We measured the number of feces in the group, the length and width of five randomly selected feces from each pellet group and the length/width ratio. Roe deer pellets were shorter, narrower and less elongated than those of fallow deer; yet, length was found to be the best discriminant. The most accurate threshold was 1.2 cm, i.e., 12-15% of pellets were over/below this value. The mean number of pellets in a group was lower for roe deer (39.6, SE = 1.6) than for fallow deer (64.5, SE = 1.5). A value of 50-52 pellets best differentiated between the two species. To conclude, combining these two measurements could be an objective method to distinguish between pellet groups of the two species.