slip. The Eifel National Park is involved in a research project on the importance of dead animals in the forest for biodiversity. The aim is to find out how the carrion is used by vertebrates, insects, bacteria and fungi, said the Schleiden National Park. The funding project of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn is called: “Leave wild animal carcasses in the landscape – testing using the example of national parks”. The investigation phase is now beginning, dead wild animals are being laid out in a targeted manner, the national park explained. The animal corpses are observed and analyzed until they are completely decomposed.
During a first investigation in the Bavarian Forest National Park, a large number of species were detected. Among them were 92 beetle and 3726 fungus species. “A wild animal carcass is therefore a true biodiversity hotspot,” commented scientist Christian von Hoermann. Carrion releases much more nutrients than other dead organic matter like wood or leaves. While deadwood can take decades to decompose, the process of decomposing a dead animal often only takes weeks.
Mosses and lichens cover the floor of a spruce forest in the Eifel National Park.
© Source: Oliver Berg/dpa
Carcasses are laid out far from the hiking trails
But will hikers get close to dead animals in the sanctuary? No, that is not planned, the national park explained. “The carcasses are laid out far away from the hiking trails so as not to disturb the animals and the investigation”. Dead deer and stags from traffic accidents are used. It is counted how many species can then be found. Scavengers such as red kites, foxes, wild boars and badgers are documented with camera traps. Insects are detected by other traps, fungi and bacteria by swabs.
Over a period of three years, eight roe deer carcasses that have died naturally or died in wildlife accidents are to be laid down in random areas every year in the national park in the Eifel. There are three areas of each: an area with no carrion, one with a dead deer and a third with an animal species for a larger habitat like a red deer. “In any case, no animals will be shot specifically for the project,” said the national park.
The protected area in the Eifel, which has existed since 2004, is the only national park in North Rhine-Westphalia. A wilderness is to be created in the 11,000-hectare forest area near the Belgian border. More than half of the way, nature is left to itself.