Populations of ungulates are a central element in the trophic web of mountain landscapes. They interact closely with vegetation, both influencing vegetation (e.g., through selective browsing) and being influenced by it (altered habitat quality as a result of changing forest structure and composition). In turn, changes in ungulate populations have impacts on other trophic levels, such as on predator populations and decomposers (e.g., carrion communities).
Research on ungulates in Central Europe has to date primarily focused on ungulate populations themselves or on a small subset of the trophic network. Complex multi-trophic analyses are largely missing, despite the fact that they are considered to be an important next step in biodiversity research. In the current project, to obtain a better understanding of the ecosystem dynamics in mountain landscapes, ungulate populations will be investigated in the context of the larger trophic web that they are embedded in. Such an approach has a high potential for novel insights of high relevance beyond the immediate ecosystems of Berchtesgaden National Park. It can furthermore provide data and process understanding for improving the ungulate management in the National Park.