Effect of SARS-CoV-2 outbreak on behavioral patterns of sika deer in Japan


In a recent study published in Plus oneThe researchers investigated the effect of anthroposophy, or stagnation, in human activity due to the decrease in tourist visits to Nara Park, central Japan, due to the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which reduced the population and changed behavior. to Nippon cervix (Sika deer) residents.

Study: Effects of Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on Wildlife Behavior Through Human Activities.  Image credit: Sergey Bond / Shutterstock.com
Stady: Impact of novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on wildlife behavior via human activities. Image credit: Sergey Bond / Shutterstock.com


In an urban ecosystem, wildlife is affected by human activities and has acquired behaviors through human interactions. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak (and resulting lockdown) has created an anthroposia that can affect animals that humans feed on, such as sika deer. Deer species display a characteristic curvature toward human feeders and may sometimes turn aggressive if deer cakes are not fed.

Previous studies have reported the impact of Anthropos on bird and animal behavior between 2020 and 2021, including the animals’ changing singing patterns. Zonotrichia leucofres (white-crowned sparrow) in San Francisco; increased activity Sylvilagus floridanus (cotton rabbit) in Italy; and increased populations of bird species in the United States (US) and Canada, compared to pre-pandemic periods, in urban areas.

about studying

In this study, the researchers evaluated changes in habitat use, population numbers, and feeding behavior Nippon cervix Response to human-caused COVID-19 from 2020 onwards.

The team conducted surveys between 2015 and 2021 Nippon cervix In 3.0 locations located within Nara Park, Japan, which is frequently visited by tourists, i.e. areas near the National Museum, Nandi Gate of Todai-ji Temple, Kasugano Park and Okigomo. The team assessed deer numbers in April of the pre-pandemic period, i.e. between 2015 and 2019, and monthly during the COVID-19 pandemic between June 2020 and June of the following year.

Road census surveys were conducted at all sites three times daily to assess deer numbers (females and males) and tourist visits during the epidemic period. Pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 deer feeding behaviors were compared using video recordings in the National Museum District between September 2016 and January of the following year and between June 2020 and the same month the following year.

For behavioral pattern analysis, 20 females and males were randomly selected monthly. The team excluded elk because they had not fully acquired the characteristic bowing behavior toward human feeders. The researchers stood one meter away from the deer and showed them the pictures, but did not feed them biscuits.

The bow count of each animal was recorded in response to each deer’s cookie display until it attacked (via head-butting, kicking or biting) the feeder or went away. Generalized linear mixed modeling (GLMM) was performed for the analysis. Deer were born within a year, as evidenced by their small frame, facial features, and white spots, and were considered elk; Adult male and female deer were identified as larger animals with the presence and absence of antlers, respectively.


The number of tourists increased between 2015 and 2019, followed by a decrease between 2020 and the following year. Deer numbers per month at the three sites are positively correlated with tourist statistics during the epidemic. The number of deer in the Todai-ji area decreased from 167 deer (center) to 65 deer (39.0%) between 2019 and 2020.

Similarly, deer bow populations (per animal) were lower during COVID-19 (6.40) than during pre-pandemic times between 2016 and 2017 (10.0). The number of tourists increased between June and November 2020, followed by a decrease between December and February 2021 and a subsequent increase from March onwards.

The number of deer by month and the number of their bows were associated with tourism fluctuations during COVID-19, while their aggressive behavior remained largely unchanged. The results indicated that the stats of the tourists affected the kneeling and not the attacking behavior of the deer by the chances of getting the donut. As tourist numbers fluctuate, the use of the animals’ habitats has changed rapidly. The wearing of masks by human feeders did not affect deer behavior.


Overall, the results of the study showed that human-induced COVID-19 reduced sika deer populations as well as the number of staghorns in response to cookie offering; However, there was no significant change in their attacking behavior. The results indicated that deer populations are sensitive to changes in human activity and respond quickly to such modifications.

The Todai-ji area leads to the Great Buddha, which is visited by most tourists. Therefore, changes in deer numbers at the site likely correspond to changes in tourist visits to the site and reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife in Japan.


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