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A systematic review of the impacts and management of introduced deer (family Cervidae) in Australia


Davis, NE and Bennett, A and Forsyth, DM and Bowman, DMJS and Lefroy, EC and Wood, SW and Woolnough, AP and West, P and Hampton, JO and Johnson, CN, A systematic review of the impacts and management of introduced deer (family Cervidae) in Australia, Wildlife Research, 43, (1) pp. 515-532. ISSN 1035-3712 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Journal compilation copyright CSIRO 2016

DOI: doi:10.1071/WR16148


Deer are among the world’s most successful invasive mammals and can have substantial deleterious impacts on natural and agricultural ecosystems. Six species have established wild populations in Australia, and the distributions and abundances of some species are increasing. Approaches to managing wild deer in Australia are diverse and complex, with some populations managed as ‘game’ and others as ‘pests’. Implementation of cost-effective management strategies that account for this complexity is hindered by a lack of knowledge of the nature, extent and severity of deer impacts. To clarify the knowledge base and identify research needs, we conducted a systematic review of the impacts and management of wild deer in Australia. Most wild deer are in south-eastern Australia, but bioclimatic analysis suggested that four species are well suited to the tropical and subtropical climates of northern Australia. Deer could potentially occupy most of the continent, including parts of the arid interior. The most significant impacts are likely to occur through direct effects of herbivory, with potentially cascading indirect effects on fauna and ecosystem processes. However, evidence of impacts in Australia is largely observational, and few studies have experimentally partitioned the impacts of deer from those of sympatric native and other introduced herbivores. Furthermore, there has been little rigorous testing of the efficacy of deer management in Australia, and our understanding of the deer ecology required to guide deer management is limited. We identified the following six priority research areas: (i) identifying long-term changes in plant communities caused by deer; (ii) understanding interactions with other fauna; (iii) measuring impacts on water quality; (iv) assessing economic impacts on agriculture (including as disease vectors); (v) evaluating efficacy of management for mitigating deer impacts; and (vi) quantifying changes in distribution and abundance. Addressing these knowledge gaps will assist the development and prioritisation of cost-effective management strategies and help increase stakeholder support for managing the impacts of deer on Australian ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:agriculture, biodiversity conservation, biological invasions, chital, culling, ecosystems, exotic herbivore, fallow deer, fencing, hog deer, red deer, rusa deer, sambar
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
UTAS Author:Lefroy, EC (Professor Ted Lefroy)
UTAS Author:Wood, SW (Mr Samuel Wood)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:112287
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Centre for Environment
Deposited On:2016-11-02
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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