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Endangered animals and plants are positively or neutrally related to wild boar (Sus scrofa) soil disturbance in urban grasslands

Cabon, Valentin; Bùi, Miriam; Kühne, Henning; Seitz, Birgit; Kowarik, Ingo; Lippe, Moritz von der; Buchholz , Sascha

Wild boar is increasingly establishing populations in the outskirts of European cities, with the largest German urban population occurring in Berlin. Related soil disturbance in grasslands is common and often considered as damage to biodiversity. However, it is unknown how animal and plant species in urban grasslands respond to wild boar activity - an important limitation for conservation management. We sampled plants, grasshoppers and sand lizards in 22 dry grasslands and measured wild boar activity. We show that plant diversity decreased with rooting intensity, but not species richness, endangered or specialist species. Relationships with animals were mostly positive. Grasshopper diversity, total richness and richness of endangered and specialist species were positively related to rooting, as was sand lizard abundance. These relationships contrast to mostly negative effects in the wild boar’s non-native range. This first multi-taxa study in a large city suggests that soil disturbance by wild boars is not necessarily a threat to biodiversity. An implication for conservation is to consider the context-dependence of biodiversity responses to wild boar activity. For dry grasslands, disturbed patches should be accepted in management plans rather than re-vegetated by seeding.
Published in: Scientific Reports, 10.1038/s41598-022-20964-4, Springer Nature