Wild Horses

Identification of herds, population size and dynamic in the ecosystem

Lab. of Wildlife-Freshwater Fisheries
School of Forestry & Natural Environment
Leader: Assoc. Professor D. Bakaloudis

The knowledge of population size and its structure is essential for the development of effective management strategies in wildlife species. Therefore, the aims of this action are: (a) to estimate population size and demography of wild horses, and b) to assess two survey methods of population size.

Population size and structure will be estimated by observers located in different vantage points, as well as, by using aerial surveillance (drone) and wildlife cameras. Population Viability Analysis (PVA) will be used to predict the likely future status of the wild horse population in the Menoikio Mountain.

Habitat use

Lab. of Wildlife-Freshwater Fisheries
School of Forestry & Natural Environment
Coordinated by Assoc. Professor D. Bakaloudis

The use of habitat types by wildlife species is the central issue in the ecology. Furthermore, the development of habitat suitability could be useful in monitoring and planning for wild horses in the region, by identifying potential unoccupied segments that could support populations of wild horses. So, the project also aims (a) to test if wild horses use randomly habitat types within their home range, and (b) to estimate home range size of a number of herds.

We will fit five GPS collars (satellite telemetry) to different individuals in order to evaluate habitat use, resource selection and movements. In addition, a digital map with the habitat types will be developed and geospatial environmental data will be used for evaluating the area with Habitat Suitability models.

Food habits and feed resources

Lab. of Wildlife-Freshwater Fisheries & Lab. of Range Science
School of Forestry & Natural Environment
Coordinated by Assoc. Professor D. Bakaloudis & Assoc. Professor Z. Parisi

Herbivores are classified as browsers and grazers according to the relative consumption of browse and grass, respectively. The knowledge of diet of an herbivore is essential to manage a wildlife species, as well as connecting diet composition to demography is challenging in most of the wildlife species. Therefore, the aims of this action are (a) to create a reference key with plants of the area, (b) to identify important plant species in the diet of the wild horses, and (c) to analyze by microhistological samples the food habits of the population of wild horses.

A reference key will be developed with a collection of all potential plant species that used in the diet of wild horses. Feacal samples will be collected year-round from the area to estimate through microhistological analysis the feeding habits of the wild horses. Food items will be classified in different functional groups which are associated with different feeding strategies of herbivores.

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