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Mineral lick use by a community of large herbivores in northern Iran

Salmanpour, Farid, Shakoori, Zahra, Kia, Mehdi, Eshaghi, Rahman, Ghaderi, Mehdi, Ghomi, Saied, Kaveh, Reza, Rabie, Kuros, Kiabi, Bahram H., Farhadinia, Mohamma S. and others. (2023) Mineral lick use by a community of large herbivores in northern Iran. Ecology and Evolution, 13 (1). Article Number e9731. E-ISSN 2045-7758. (doi:10.1002/ece3.9731) (KAR id:99574)


Natural mineral licks are ecologically valuable resources to meet the physiological needs of herbivores, particularly in temperate forests. Importantly, licking sites can harbor high anthropogenic risk for conservation‐dependent herbivores through higher chance of pathogen spillover from livestock and increased levels of poaching risks. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no information on the mineral lick use in temperate forests of west Asia and the Caucasus where a few threatened deer species exist. We monitored four naturally occurring mineral licks in Central Alborz Protected Area, northern Iran during May–July 2019 using camera traps and analyzed the mineral content of the licking sites. A total of 53 independent mineral lick visits were obtained from only three species of herbivores, i.e., Caspian red deer (Cervus elaphus maral; n = 21), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus; n = 26), and wild pig (Sus scrofa; n = 6). The sex ratio of visiting Caspian red deer was highly skewed toward females (3M:18F), whereas it was more balanced in visiting roe deer (11M:15F). The species‐level distribution of visits corresponded to diurnal and cathemeral for Caspian red deer and for roe deer, respectively, without any evidence of different activity curves. There was a negative nonlinear relationship between the ambient temperature and the visitation rate. Our findings showed that mineral licks are important habitat features for these large herbivores and need to be included in spatial mapping and habitat protection measures.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/ece3.9731
Uncontrolled keywords: Behavioural ecology, NATURE NOTES, Caspian red deer, geophagy, Iran, lick site, roe deer
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2023 12:22 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2023 13:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Farhadinia, Mohamma S..

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