The aim of our research group is to assess the invasiveness of herbivorous/omnivorous mammals based on field and laboratory studies. Our study species are the nutria (coypu), which is an alien to our country, and the wild boar and red deer, which are native but show a strong expansion. Our aim is to determine the physical condition and reproductive characteristics of nutria, to study its dietary composition, and genetic similarity to other populations. In our research, we collect important data by the body size measurements of individuals taken by hunters, by examining the internal organs (reproductive organs, stomach contents) and by taking DNA samples from the animals. Field studies will be carried out to assess the impact of wild boar rooting, by measuring the extent of soil disturbances on grassland and changes in the spatial pattern of rooting throughout the year. We will examine the impact of digging on soil quality, the occurrence of invasive plant species in the soil seed bank and vegetation, and other animal species. We will also investigate the role of wild boar, red deer in seed dispersal of invasive species. From our existing field databases, we will analyse the extent to which selective game browsing facilitates the dispersal of certain species. We are also developing a website where observers can record nutria sightings. Based on the results, we will provide recommendations on good management practices to prevent conflicts.
Pitta-Osses, Natalia - PhD student
Thabang Rainett Teffo - PhD student