FO11 Wildlife richness
Game species and wildlife richness
Wildlife richness refers to the size and distribution of game animal populations, i.e. large mammals and grouse. Of all animals humans normally known game animals the best. In addition to ecological and social value, they are of considerable cultural and economic importance. Humans affect game populations both directly through hunting and indirectly by changing their environment. Finnish game animals are primarily forest species although farmlands, for example, are also an important part of many species' habitat selection. Game species are a taxonomically and ecologically heterogeneous group including both predators and their prey.
Estimates of Finland's wildlife richness are based on wildlife triangle census data collected by hunters in cooperation with game researchers. Some 800–1000 triangles each 12 kilometers in length are censused annually. The wildlife triangle scheme was set up in 1989. The wildlife richness index has been developed by the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute to monitor the wellbeing of species assemblages in general, not only the sustainability of game populations. The index includes most of Finland's large mammals as well as all grouse species except for Ptarmigan which breeds only on the fell tops of northernmost Lapland. Other notable species that have not been chosen to represent the wildlife richness are Brown bear and Raccoon dog, of which too few observations accumulate in winter-time counts due the to fact that these species hibernate.
Finnish game fauna
Finnish game is diverse and consist mainly of arctic and taiga species, but include also some species typical for the Central Europe. This fact is partly explained by diversity of many forest vegetation zones and connection to the large taiga forests in the east. Game fauna is impacted by land use and intensive forestry, and also in some extent of the stocking with game and other management actions carried out hunters.
The wildlife richness in western and south-western part of the country is characterised by ungulates, Moose, White-tailed deer and Roe deer. The large carnivores, Wolf, Lynx and Wolverine characterise the species assemblage in the east in relative terms (not in abundance per se).The wildlife richness in the southern and central Finland are less dominated by any guild among the species list. The level of wildlife richness decreases to the north, and is dominated by small predators and grouse.
Temporal trends in wildlife richness
The populations levels of Finnish game animal populations fluctuate strongly from year to year. The wildlife richness index is not very sensitive in detecting yearly changes, but helps in monitoring long-term changes in assemblages.
During the last 15 years temporal wildlife richness has increased in Finland. The increasing trend is especially due to increase in the population levels of ungulates (White-tailed deer and Roe deer) and large carnivores. The decrease of mountain hare population level has, however, dampened the progress (see "other" in map including only Mountain hare and Red squirrel).
|This indicator is updated annually in November-December |
- Updated (14.05.2013)