GWCT National Gamebag Census & Tracking Mammals Partnership

Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi

Taxonomy: Class: Mammalia; Order: Artiodactyla; Family: Cervidae

Description

Muntjac photo
Muntjac © Peter Thompson

The muntjac originates from south-east China and Taiwan, It is a small brown deer with a white underside, no more than 50 cm tall at the shoulder. A characteristic pose is head held lower than the back. It was originally introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire, in 1894. Further releases and escapes have resulted in the species becoming established in the wild since the 1930s. The muntjac likes woodland habitats with a dense understorey, and breeds throughout the year. It can cause serious damage to gardens, coppice woodland and sometimes forestry. The muntjac (both sexes) may be shot all year round.

Further information:
Mammal Society website muntjac page.

Conservation status and legislation

Status:
UK: Non-native
World: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

Legislation:
 
Logo NBN Gateway © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved NERC 100017897 2004
Source: National Biodiversity Network and its data providers, who bear
no responsibility for interpretation of the 10x10-km grid map
 

Distribution and abundance

The muntjac is present throughout most of southern and eastern England, and is penetrating into Wales. There are scattered records from northern England and a few from Scotland. It is absent from Ireland.

Estimates of muntjac abundance (numbers of individuals in the spring) across the UK, from Harris et al. (1995):

United Kingdom 40,300
England 40,000
Scotland 50
Wales 250
N Ireland 0

Recent trends from the National Gamebag Census

United Kingdom

Index of bag density from 1980 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Muntjac trend United Kingdom

There has been a rapid increase in the bag index between 1980 and 2009, with average gains of 12% per annum across the period. The increase continued at a similar rate between 1995 and 2009. This reflects the ongoing range expansion and increasing abundance of this introduced species (see maps).

Change in muntjac bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
United Kingdom 176 1980 2009 1756*
387 to 4491
1148*
429 to 2904
210*
138 to 337

* significant at P < 0.05

England

Index of bag density from 1980 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations).
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Muntjac trend England

There has been a rapid increase in the bag index between 1980 and 2009, with average gains of 12% per annum across the period. The increase continued at a similar rate between 1995 and 2009. Regionally, the majority of records were from the easterly lowlands, reflecting the source of the ongoing range expansion and increasing abundance of this introduced species (see maps).

Change in muntjac bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
England 176 1980 2009 1760*
387 to 4491
1148*
429 to 2904
210*
138 to 337

* significant at P < 0.05

Scotland

There are too few bag records of muntjac to produce an index graph. Muntjac trend Scotland

 

There are too few bag records of muntjac to evaluate rates of change over time

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Scotland Too few sites

Wales

There are too few bag records of muntjac to produce an index graph. Muntjac trend Wales

 

There are too few bag records of muntjac to evaluate rates of change over time

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Wales Too few sites

N Ireland

There are too few bag records of muntjac to produce an index graph. Muntjac trend N Ireland

 

There are too few bag records of muntjac to evaluate rates of change over time

Country Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
N Ireland Too few sites

Environmental zones

Change in muntjac bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):

Environmental zone Sites Start
year
End
year
Change (%)
1961-2009
Change (%)
1984-2009
Change (%)
1995-2009
Easterly lowlands (England/Wales) 158 1980 2009 1760*
341 to 4692
1150*
388 to 3183
209*
138 to 326
Westerly lowlands (England/Wales) Too few sites
Uplands (England/Wales) Too few sites
Lowlands (Scotland) Too few sites
Intermediate uplands/islands (Scotland) Too few sites
True uplands (Scotland) Too few sites

* significant at P < 0.05

Comparison with BBS mammal data

Since 1995, data on muntjac abundance have been collected under the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) organised by the British Trust for Ornithology. Below, the UK trend from the NGC is compared to the one from the BBS (from 1995 onwards).

NGC index of bag density (blue) and BBS index of abundance (red), from 1995 to 2009.
Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Muntjac: comparison of UK trends from GWCT and BTO

Like the NGC, the BBS has shown a significant increase since 1995. For all years, the BBS confidence intervals are completely within the NGC confidence intervals, suggesting that both series agree.

Long-term trend from the National Gamebag Census

There are too few bag records of muntjac to produce a trend starting before 1980.

References and further reading

  • Battersby,J. (2005). UK Mammals: Species Status and Population Trends. Joint Nature Conservation Committee/Tracking Mammals Partnership, Peterborough (JNCC download page).
  • Chapman,N.G., Harris,S. & Stanford,A. (1994). Reeves' muntjac Muntiacus reevesii in Britain: their history, spread, habitat selection, and the role of human intervention in accelerating their dispersal. Mammal Review 24: 113-160.
  • Chapman,N.G. & Harris,S. (1996). Muntjac. Mammal Society & British Deer Society, Southampton & Fordingbridge.
  • Deer Initiative (2008). Species Ecology: Muntjac Deer. England & Wales Best Practice Guides, The Deer Initiative, Chirk (PDF file - 4,638 KB).
  • Harris,S., Morris,P., Wray,S. & Yalden,D.W. (1995). A Review of British Mammals: Population Estimates and Conservation Status of British Mammals Other than Cetaceans. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough (JNCC download page).
  • Harris,S. & Yalden,D.W. (2008). Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook, 4th edition. Mammal Society, Southampton.

This report should be cited as: Aebischer,N.J., Davey,P.D. & Kingdon,N.G. (2011). National Gamebag Census: Mammal Trends to 2009. Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Fordingbridge (http://www.gwct.org.uk/ngcmammals).

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