Perspectives for an ecological network for red deer (Cervus elaphus) in the Belgian-Dutch-German border area

G.W.T.A. Groot Bruinderink, T. van der Sluis, R. Pouwels, D.R. Lammertsma

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    In the densely populated Belgian-Dutch-German border region, the relicts of natural areas are highly fragmented. The remaining reserves form completely isolated 'islands', i.e. the habitat is suurounded by a 'sea' of intensively cultivated areas. Impoverishment of large ungulate species diversity must be counteracted by restoration of connectivity between these habitat patches and by re-population of its former range. Because of its former widespread distribution and range size, in this study the red deer (Cervus elaphus) is chosen as a key species in the design of large-scale ecological networks, which consist of large nature reserves, in this region. An ecological network analysis, assessing habitat connectivity, is carried out for an area covered by The Netherlands, Belgian Flanders and bordering parts of Germany, using the landscape-ecological model LARCH. The results are compared with the habitat suitability analysis of ecological core areas for red deer in the southern parts of The Netherlands. In this way chances for restoring ecological networks and re-establishment of viable populations of large ungulates are visualised. Despite fragmentation, it is shown that some areas have good potentials for the establishment of free roaming large ungulate populations. In particular: the areas of Maasduinen, Kempens Plateau and Vijlener Bos, areas that all extend across the Belgian and German borders. The method used proved to be effective in assessing functional ecological networks and defining measures for improvement of the spatial cohesion of suitable habitat for large ungulates. The results could very well serve EU nature conservation policies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-28
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • red deer
    • cervus elaphus
    • animal ecology
    • ecology
    • population ecology
    • nature conservation
    • wildlife conservation
    • wildlife management
    • network analysis
    • belgium
    • germany
    • netherlands
    • networks
    • ecological network


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