Anthropogenic impacts on mammal community structures and ecosystem processes over 200 years: land use history, landscape patterns and top predator extinctions

Project leader

Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 1920000


The objective of this cross-disciplinary project is to investigate how historic changes in landscape and species compositions have altered ecosystem regulation processes and mammal community structures in boreo-nemoral Sweden over 200 years. Ecosystem structures are determined through an interplay of top-down and bottom-up processes. Large mammalian predators perform a key function in ecosystems by suppressing abundances of large herbivores and medium-sized predators. This top-down process may in turn have cascading impacts on several other species. However, species abundances also depend on bottom-up processes related to landscape compositions. Since the early 19th century, altered land use has changed the boreo-nemoral landscape, whilst hunting and wildlife management has caused extirpations and recolonisations of large predators and ungulates. This indicates drastic changes in ecosystem regulation processes and mammal community structures, but the implications of these have not yet been explored. We will merge the latest theories and methods from ecology and geography and use unique historic data, maps and statistics, to test the combined impacts of the changing landscapes and species interactions over time, e.g. using spatially explicit population models. The results are highly important for ecological theories on ecosystem regulation and they will render new insights regarding sustainable management of wildlife communities.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:50