The unique spatial ecology of human hunters

Nat Hum Behav. 2020 Jul;4(7):694-701. doi: 10.1038/s41562-020-0836-7. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


Human hunters are described as 'superpredators' with a unique ecology. Chronic wasting disease among cervids and African swine fever among wild boar are emerging wildlife diseases in Europe, with huge economic and cultural repercussions. Understanding hunter movements at broad scales has implications for how to control the spread of these diseases. Here we show, based on analysis of the settlement patterns and movements of hunters of reindeer (n = 9,685), red deer (n = 47,845), moose (n = 60,365) and roe deer (n = 42,530) from across Norway (2001-2017), that hunter density was more closely linked to human density than prey density and that hunters were largely migratory, aggregated with increasing regional prey densities and often used dogs. Hunter movements extended across Europe and to other continents. Our results provide extensive evidence that the broad-scale movements and residency patterns of postindustrial hunters relative to their prey differ from those of large carnivores.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Animal Diseases / transmission
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Deer
  • Ecology*
  • Humans
  • Norway
  • Population Density
  • Predatory Behavior
  • Reindeer
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.1jwstqjr9