Understanding the geography of large
mammal comebacks in Europe

Organized by: Stephanie Kramer-Schadt, IZW Berlin, Germany; Tobias Kuemmerle, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany; Nuria Selva, Polish Academy of Science, Krakow, Poland

After centuries of persecution and local extirpation, large mammals have made a remarkable comeback in Europe recently. Given the importance of large herbivores and carnivores for ecosystem functioning, these comebacks also provide opportunities to restore degraded ecosystems. Yet, Europe’s landscapes are heavily human-modified, exhibiting high human population densities, widespread land use, and high levels of landscape fragmentation. It is unclear to what extent recent range expansions of large mammals are sustainable. At the same time, critical information about where large mammals have returned, where they find potential habitat and how these habitats are connected, and how their populations might evolve in the near future is incomplete. In this symposium, we aim to synthesize research that contributes to understanding the geographies of large mammal comebacks in Europe. This includes novel methodologies for mapping habitat, identifying dispersal corridors, and assessing population dynamics – made possible through the integration of big wildlife and remote sensing data. The session will showcase how this fosters novel insights into what fosters or inhibits recolonization, how recovering species interact, and how human-wildlife interactions are reshaped. In sum, the symposium will showcase how understanding geographies of large mammal recoveries in Europe can contribute to assessing opportunities and limitations of large mammal restoration.

Presentations
Evaluating the effectiveness of surrogates for large mammal connectivity conservation
Trishna Dutta (University of Goettingen, Germany)

Anthropogenic barriers affect large carnivore range expansion in Iberia
Guillermo Fandos (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)

Integrating big animal tracking data at a continental scale for assessing the potential of Eurasian lynx recovery across Europe
Julian Oeser (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany)

Understanding spatio-temporal dynamics of returning wolves to Germany
Aimara Planillo (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Germany)

Alpine lynx populations need connectivity improvements for future self-sustainment
Eva Sánchez Arribas (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (izw-berlin), Germany)