The purpose of the monthly sampling was to collect data over a 12-month period to investigate trophic interactions among ungulate species along gradients of land-use and species community composition at a high temporal resolution. This study places its main focus on moose, red deer, roe deer and fallow deer, but reindeer and wild boar were also included when present. The land-use gradient of primary interest was the proportion of agriculture versus semi-natural habitats, i.e. forests and wetlands. Data was collected every month on tracts in each of our two reference areas: Västerbotten and Sörmland. At the tract scale (1 km2), the ungulate community composition is currently still largely unresolved. Although all trophic interactions between the different ungulates are of interest in ‘Beyond Moose’, the study areas offer the unique opportunity to investigate two particularly intriguing scenarios: In the north, Swedish moose are for the first time in history confronted with an expanding population of red deer while in the south they are faced with fallow deer who have rapidly grown to locally extreme numbers over the past three decades. In total, we collected 1.400 samples which will now be analyzed using DNA metabarcoding to determine the diet composition throughout the year.
And here a short clip of our DNA extraction robot doing its job (requires Flash Plugin):