Article

Article name ANALYSIS OF HABITAT USE, ACTIVITY, AND BODY CONDITION SCORES OF PRZEWALSKI’S HORSES IN HORTOBAGY NATIONAL PARK, HUNGARY
Authors

Viola Kerekes, Hortobagy National Park Directorate (Hungary); e-mail: kerekesviola@hnp.hu
Katalin Ozogány, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, Debrecen University (Hungary); e-mail: katalin.ozogany@gmail.com
István Sándor, Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden (Hungary); e-mail: afiumvet@gmail.com
Zsolt Vegvari, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, Debrecen University (Hungary).
Csilla Czető, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, Debrecen University (Hungary).
Bettina Nyírő, Government Office of Hajdú-Bihar County (Debrecen, Hungary); e-mail: nyiro.bettina@hajdu.gov.hu
Timea Szabados, Hortobagy National Park Directorate (Hungary).
Lajos Széles, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Debrecen University (Hungary); e-mail: szelesl@med.unideb.hu
Zoltán Barta, MTA-DE Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, Debrecen University (Hungary); e-mail: barta.zoltan@science.unideb.hu

Reference to article

Kerekes V., Ozogány K., Sándor I., Vegvari Z., Czető C., Nyírő B., Szabados T., Széles L., Barta Z. 2019. Analysis of habitat use, activity, and body condition scores of Przewalski's horses in Hortobagy National Park, Hungary. Nature Conservation Research 4(Suppl.2): 31–40. https://dx.doi.org/10.24189/ncr.2019.029

Section Resarch articles
DOI https://dx.doi.org/10.24189/ncr.2019.029
Abstract

A founder population of Przewalski's horses (Equus ferus przewalskii) was set free in a semi-reserve called Pentezug in the Hortobagy National Park (Hungary) in 1997. Beside the Przewalski's horses reconstructed aurochs (Bos taurus taurus) were bred as well in the 24.5-km2 large area. Both species reproduced successfully in this steppe reserve, which was once the homeland of their distant ancestors. The number of large grazers has grown so quickly that different strategies of population control had to be implemented for reconstructed aurochs and horses in 2007 and 2013, respectively. The activity, habitat use, and body condition of Przewalski's horses were monitored regularly throughout the 22 years. We detected seasonal changes in the activity of the horses but the proportions of the main activity types were similar in two distant time periods. In contrast, habitat use and body condition scores for the horses showed remarkable differences between early vs. late years of the project, implying that horses were forced to use non-preferable areas and their condition was worsened in parallel with the increased population density of the large grazers. During the cold spring in 2018, there was a massive loss of both horses and cattle. These observations suggest that limited food sources could lead to changes in habitat use and/or worse body condition and a greater death rate in extreme weather conditions. In summary, strict birth control measures must be implemented in dense Przewalski's horse populations, and the habitat use and body conditions must be monitored to balance the population size and carrying capacity of the areas.

Keywords

Bos taurus taurus, carrying capacity, Equus ferus przewalskii, large grazers, population control, Pentezug Reserve, reconstructed aurochs, semi-reserve

Artice information

Received: 10.04.2019. Revised: 27.04.2019. Accepted: 05.05.2019.

The full text of the article
References

Berger A., Scheibe K.M., Eichhorn K., Scheibe A., Streich J. 1999. Diurnal and ultradian rhythms of behaviour in a mare group of Przewalski horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), measured through one year under semi-reserve conditions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 64(1): 1–17. DOI: 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00026-X
Beest F.M., Uzal A., Vander Wal E., Laforge M.P., Contasti A.L., Colville D., McLoughlin P.D. 2014. Increasing density leads to generalization in both coarse-grained habitat selection and fine-grained resource selection in a large mammal. Journal of Animal Ecology 83(1): 147–156. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12115
Bouman I., Bouman J. 1994. The history of Przewalski's horse. In: L. Boyd, K. Houpt (Eds.): Przewalski's horse. The history and biology of an endangered species. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. P. 5–38.
Boyd L.E., Carbonaro D.A., Houpt K.A. 1988. The 24-hour time budget of Przewalski horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 21(1–2): 5–17. DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(88)90098-6
Boyd L., Houpt K.A. 1994. Activity patterns. In: L. Boyd, K. Houpt (Eds.): Przewalski's horse. The history and biology of an endangered species. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. P. 195–254.
Boyd L., Bandi N. 2002. Reintroduction of takhi, Equus ferus przewalskii, to Hustai National Park, Mongolia: time budget and synchrony of activity pre-and post-release. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 78(2–4): 87–102. DOI: 10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00088-6
Caughley G. 1981. Overpopulation. In: P.A. Jewell, S. Holt (Eds): Problems in Management of Locally Abundant Wild Mammals. New York: Academic Press. P. 91–118.
Coulson T., Catchpole E.A., Albon S.D., Morgan B.J.T., Pemberton J.M., Clutton-Brock T.H., Crawley M.J., Grenfell B.T. 2001. Age, sex, density, winter weather, and population crashes in Soay sheep. Science 292(5521): 1528–1531. DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5521.1528
Deák B., Valkó O., Alexander C., Mücke W., Kania A., Tamás J., Heilmeier H. 2014a. Fine-scale vertical position as an indicator of vegetation in alkali grasslands – Case study based on remotely sensed data. Flora – Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants 209(12): 693–697. DOI: 10.1016/j.flora.2014.09.005
Deák B., Valkó O., Török P., Tóthmérész B. 2014b. Solonetz meadow vegetation (Beckmannion eruciformis) in East-Hungary – an alliance driven by moisture and salinity. Tuexenia 34(1): 187–203. DOI: 10.14471/2014.34.004
Deák B., Valkó O., Tóthmérész B., Török P. 2014c. Alkali marshes of Central-Europe: Ecology, management and nature conservation. In: Hong-bo Sh. (Ed.): Salt marshes: ecosystem, vegetation and restoration strategies. New York: Nova Science Publishers. P. 1–11.
Duncan P. 1983. Determinants of the use of habitat by horses in a Mediterranean wetland. Journal of Animal Ecology 52(1): 93–109. DOI: 10.2307/4590
Duncan P. 1992. Horses and grasses: the nutritional ecology of equids and their impact on the Camargue. New-York: Springer Science & Business Media. 287 p.
Duncan P., Foose T.J., Gordon I.J., Gakahu C.G., Lloyd M. 1990. Comparative nutrient extraction from forages by grazing bovids and equids: a test of the nutritional model of equid/bovid competition and coexistence. Oecologia 84(3): 411–418. DOI: 10.1007/BF00329768
Janis C. 1976. The evolutionary strategy of the Equidae and the origins of rumen and cecal digestion. Evolution 30(4): 757–774. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.1976.tb00957.x
King S.R.B. 2002. Home range and habitat use of free-ranging Przewalski horses at Hustai National Park, Mongolia. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 78(2–4): 103–113. DOI: 10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00087-4
King S.R. 2005. Extinct in the Wild to Endangered: the history of Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) and its future conservation. Mongolian Journal of Biological Sciences 3(2): 37–41.
Kirkpatrick J.F., Liu I.K.M., Turner J.W. 1990. Remotely-delivered immunocontraception in feral horses. Wildlife Society Bulletin 18(3): 326–330.
Lorimer J., Driessen C. 2013. Bovine biopolitics and the promise of monsters in the rewilding of Heck cattle. Geoforum 48: 249–259. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.09.002
Menard C., Duncan P., Fleurance G., Georges J.Y., Lila M. 2002. Comparative foraging and nutrition of horses and cattle in European wetlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 39(1): 120–133. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2664.2002.00693.x
Molnár Z. 2014. Perception and management of spatio-temporal pasture heterogeneity by Hungarian herders. Rangeland Ecology & Management 67(2): 107–118. DOI: 10.2111/REM-D-13-00082.1
Rudman R., Keiper R.R. 1991. The body condition of feral ponies on Assateague Island. Equine Veterinary Journal 23(6): 453–456. DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.1991.tb03760.x
Scorolli A.L., Lopez Cazorla A.C., Tejera L.A. 2006. Unusual mass mortality of feral horses during a violent rainstorm in Parque Provincial Tornquist, Argentina. Mastozoologia Neotropical 13(2): 255–258.
Sommer R.S., Benecke N., Lхugas L., Nelle O., Schmцlcke U. 2011. Holocene survival of the wild horse in Europe: a matter of open landscape? Journal of Quaternary Science 26(8): 805–812. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1509
Souris A.C., Kaczensky P., Julliard R., Walzer C. 2007. Time budget-, behavioral synchrony- and body score development of a newly released Przewalski's horse group Equus ferus przewalskii, in the Great Gobi B strictly protected area in SW Mongolia. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 107(3–4): 307–321. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.09.023
Török P., Kapocsi I., Deák B. 2012. Conservation and management of alkali grass-land biodiversity in Central-Europe. In: W.J. Zhang (Ed.): Grasslands: Types, Biodiversity and Impacts. New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc. P. 109–118.
Turner J.J., Liu I.K., Flanagan D.R., Bynum K.S., Rutberg A.T. 2002. Porcine zona pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception of wild horses (Equus caballus) in Nevada: a 10 year study. Reproduction (Cambridge, England) Supplement 60: 177–186.
Vörös I. 1987. Large Mammalian Fauna Changes during the late Upper Pleistocene and Early Holocene Times in the Carpathian Basin. In: M. Pécsi (Ed.): Pleistocene environment in Hungary. Budapest: Geographical Research Institute Hungarian Academy of Sciences. P. 81–101.
Wakefield S., Knowles J., Zimmermann W., Van Dierendonck M. 2002. Status and action plan for the Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii). In: P.D. Moehlman (Ed.): Equids: Zebras, Asses, and Horses: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. P. 82–92.
Walzer C., Kaczensky P., Zimmermann W., Stauffer C. 2012. Przewalski's horse reintroduction to Mongolia: status and outlook. WAZA Magazine 13: 3–6.
Xia C., Cao J., Zhang H., Gao X., Yang W., Blank D. 2014. Reintroduction of Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) in Xinjiang, China: the status and experience. Biological Conservation 177: 142–147. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.021