Mammalian Biology

, Volume 78, Issue 6, pp 438–445 | Cite as

Resting site selection by large herbivores – The case of European bison (Bison bonasus) in Białowieza Primeval Forest

  • Tilman C. SchneiderEmail author
  • Rafał Kowalczyk
  • Max Köhler
Original Investigation


Resting site selection by European bison (Bison bonasus, L., 1758), the largest terrestrial mammal of Europe, was studied in the free-ranging population in Białowieza Primeval Forest (Poland) in 2009–2010. In total, 104 sites of 21 bison (both collared and uncollared) were analysed to determine the most important microhabitat characteristics selected by resting bison during summer and winter and to study the influence of supplementary feeding on resting behaviour of this herbivore. Resting sites were identified on the basis of GPS locations and activity records collected by GPS collars, as well as direct observations of bison, and were compared with control sites. Microhabitat selection by bison did not differ significantly between the sexes. During summer and winter, bison resting sites displayed a high tree density, low visibility and high complexity (structures providing cover). Summer resting sites were also characterised by a significantly lower abundance of blood-sucking insects and denser canopy than control sites. Winter resting sites showed a lower complexity and higher visibility than summer sites, and were less often located in mixed forest habitats. During winter, bison rested more frequently in forest below 50 years of age than in older forest. Resting sites of non-fed bison were more often located in young coniferous forests, were lower in visibility and situated closer to open areas than sites of bison using supplementary winter feeding, suggesting a trade-off between food and cover. The results indicate that European bison select their resting sites in areas of mosaic habitat structure providing cover from disturbances with access to profitable natural forage grounds.


Activity pattern Cover conditions Microhabitat selection European bison Supplementary feeding 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tilman C. Schneider
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rafał Kowalczyk
    • 2
  • Max Köhler
    • 3
  1. 1.Department ofSociobiology/AnthropologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of SciencesBiałowiez˙aPoland
  3. 3.CRC Poverty, Equity and GrowthUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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