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Wildlife Ecology

The core activities of the section’s work relate to bird and mammal species, much of which involves the study and integration of aspects of their ecology with their population dynamics. Many birds and mammals are highly migratory, undertaking different elements of their lifecycles in different habitats or geographical areas, making it challenging when it comes to managing such species. Much of our role is therefore to improve on our current understanding of species’ movements, population dynamics and behaviour in general to provide the knowledge base necessary to deliver management advice when resolving conflicts and interactions with people and society, for instance through impact assessment. Inevitably, we increasingly study the spatial and seasonal movements of organisms to improve our understanding of, for instance, habitat selection of mammals and the long distance migratory paths of waterbirds. We are particularly involved with the study of how hunting and hunting regulations, changing agricultural practices, land use and climate change, recreational activities (e.g. running, cycling, sailing and hunting), and major infrastructural developments (e.g. roads, bridges and windmills) affect populations, and we also study how different species interact with each other, e.g. through competition or predation.

Classical methods and advanced technology


In pursuit of these objectives, we combine classical biological methods with the application of new technologies. Our methods of assessing changes in abundance and distribution of bird and mammal populations can range from simply using binoculars to count individuals, to sophisticated capture/recapture methods and deploying tracking devices.  Increasingly, we exploit video cameras, GPS loggers, drones and remote sensing to supplement these more simple techniques of gathering information about individuals. We are also progressively using advanced image processing to generate geo-rectified spatially explicit distributions of waterbirds at sea from high-resolution vertical photographic imagery. We also increasingly incorporate individual-based modelling (e.g.  ALMaSS) and genomic developments to add to the quality of our research and advice. Much of the research we undertake is to support nature conservation management, much of which relates to recommending management interventions to meet specific societal targets. As result, we are increasingly investing in research activities (especially with regard to management of huntable and other populations, habitats and communities) that are integrated within an adaptive management framework that enables us to “learn by doing”.

Science based support to government and education


Research generated within the Wildlife Ecology section forms the basis for preparing management plans and other science-based consultancy products to industry, to the statutory bodies responsible for wildlife and nature management, NGOs and the public at large. The section is also responsible for compiling the annual national reporting of Danish hunting statistics, as well as the annual results of wing analyses (donated by hunters, which enable an assessment of annual waterbird reproductive success) and waterbird censuses (which monitor the stocks of waterbirds). This contribution represents a substantial part of the national monitoring programme covering birds and mammals in Denmark and specifically enables the regular assessment of the sustainability of current levels of hunting on all huntable species to government. The section is regularly involved in undertaking environmental impact assessments for government ministries as well as to the private sector. It also contributes to teaching and developing talent through undergraduate courses and PhD schools, as well as hosting MSc and PhD students studying nature and wildlife management. 

If you would like to know more


The results from the section’s research, monitoring and consultancy work are disseminated through scientific journals and reports, much of which are accessible on the web (accessible free of charge using this link), as well as through more popular outlets in the media, hunting magazines and other information outlets. In addition, you can keep up to date on news items from e.g. the Department of Bioscience by signing up for a free subscription to the electronic newsletter from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy.



Wildlife ecology
Aarhus Universitet
Institut for Bioscience
Grenåvej 14
8410 Rønde