Ecosystems Forests Poster

Gresham, Amy // Can’t see the deer for the trees? Behavioural ecology of fallow deer in a human-altered landscape


This poster provides an overview of my PhD and is aimed at students and researchers in biological sciences. Deer populations are expanding and pose a threat to woodland habitats. This project aims to identify factors influencing fallow deer activity and behaviour in different woodland environments in North Wales. Deer activity levels are predicted to vary according to woodland understorey structure, tree species present and seasonal changes. We also expect to see differences in deer diet across seasons.



Deer are an important feature of our landscape. As large herbivores, they influence nutrient cycling, plant species diversity and structure of woodlands and forests. These effects can scale up to affect woodland wildlife such as birds and invertebrates. Deer populations are expanding in the UK.

To manage expanding deer populations better, we need to know more about the decisions they make and how these change throughout the year.


  • Camera trapping to monitor deer activity.
  • Identifying diet contents through DNA metabarcoding of deer faeces.
  • Surveying woodland understorey structure with Terrestrial Laser Scanning.
  • Surveying tree species composition and size structure.
  • Surveying seasonal ground flora cover.


  1. Deer activity levels will be higher in woodlands with heterogeneous understorey structure due to good quality shelter and foraging resources. Species composition of the tree community will influence this.
  2. Deer activity levels in woodlands will vary with seasonal changes in disturbance, food availability and the reproductive cycle.
  3. Grasses will be the main component of the diet, but trees and woodland ground flora will vary in importance with season.

Amy Gresham

Amy Gresham

Amy is a behavioural ecologist interested in exploring interactions between animals and their environment. She holds a BSc in Zoology from the University of Nottingham and an MSc in Conservation & Biodiversity from the University of Exeter. Amy has worked on projects studying bird predation of invertebrates, nest site selection in blue tits and hummingbird foraging cognition. Amy is currently studying for her PhD at Bangor University, where she is investigating the behaviour of fallow deer in woodland environments.

Amy’s Envision profile


Twitter: @amygresham48

Organisation: Bangor University