Still walking on the wild side? Management actions as steps towards ‘semi-domestication’ of hunted ungulates


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1. Domestication is a process involving adaptations to man and the man-made environment. Semi-domestic animals are those for which humans have only partial control over breeding, mortality, space use and food supply, and that have not been greatly modified by artificial selection. They therefore appear more similar to their wild counterparts.

2. The degree of domestication depends on the level of (i) human control over breeding, mortality, food supply, space use and thereby selection pressures; (ii) how much these differ from original states; and (iii) how strongly the phenotypic traits have been affected.

3.Synthesis and applications. Both natural and sexual selection in man-made environments may differ, and some management actions move traits of hunted ungulates closer to those associated with a semi-domestic stage; depending on the harvest pressure and selectivity, fencing, artificial feeding and predator control. There is a trade-off between high productivity of hunted ungulate populations and retaining wild traits.