Usually hated, sometimes loved: A review of wild ungulates' contributions to people

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


Nature's contributions to people (NCP) may be both beneficial and detrimental to humans' quality of life. Since our origins, humans have been closely related to wild ungulates, which have traditionally played an outstanding role as a source of food or raw materials. Currently, wild ungulates are declining in some regions, but recovering in others throughout passive rewilding processes. This is reshaping human-ungulate interactions. Thus, adequately understanding the benefits and detriments associated with wild ungulate populations is necessary to promote human-ungulate co-existence. Here, we reviewed 575 articles (2000-2019) on human-wild ungulate interactions to identify key knowledge gaps on NCP associated with wild ungulates. Wild ungulate research was mainly distributed into seven research clusters focussing on: (1) silvicultural damage in Eurasia; (2) herbivory and natural vegetation; (3) conflicts in urban areas of North America; (4) agricultural damage in Mediterranean agro-ecosystems; (5) social research in Africa and Asia; (6) agricultural damage in North America; (7) research in natural American Northwest areas. Research mostly focused on detrimental NCP. However, the number of publications mentioning beneficial contributions increased after the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services conceptual framework was implemented. Human-ungulate interactions' research was biased towards the Global North and Cervidae, Suidae and Bovidae families. Regarding detrimental NCP, most publications referred to production damage (e.g. crops), followed by biodiversity damage, and material damage (e.g. traffic collisions). Regarding beneficial NCP, publications mainly highlighted non-material contributions (e.g. recreational hunting), followed by material NCP and regulating contributions (e.g. habitat creation). The main actions taken to manage wild ungulate populations were lethal control and using deterrents and barriers (e.g. fencing), which effectiveness was rarely assessed. Increasing research and awareness about beneficial NCP and effective management tools may help to improve the conservation of wild ungulates and the ecosystems they inhabit to facilitate people-ungulate co-existence in the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
Article number149652
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 20.12.2021

Bibliographical note

Z.M.-R. was supported by a postdoctoral contract ( APOSTD/2019/016 ) cofunded by the Generalitat Valenciana and the European Social Fund (ESF), N.A.-A. by a pre-doctoral grant ( BES-2016-077351 ) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) and the ESF , E.S.-G. by the Generalitat Valenciana ( SEJI/2018/024 ) and with a Ramón y Cajal research contract ( RYC-2019-027216I ) from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN). M.M. was supported by a Ramón y Cajal research contract ( RYC-2015-19231 ) from the MINECO . The study was partially supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (Project “TRASCAR” RTI2018-099609-B-C21 ).

    Research areas

  • Sustainability Science - Artiodactyla, Ecological functions, herbivores, Human-wildlife relations, Mammal Management, Perissodactyla