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Robert Spitzer

Robert Spitzer


Human impact has transformed over 70% of the world’s ecosystems. This increasingly leads to species compositions and relative abundances that have no historical precedent; i.e. novel species assemblages. The introduction of non-native species, shifts in land-use practices and range expansions of native species due to climate have strongly changed Sweden’s ungulate communities resulting in species combinations and abundances that have not been witnessed before.

For my PhD, I investigate trophic interactions, potential niche shifts and population performance in novel ungulate communities, primarily focusing on moose, red deer, roe deer and fallow deer. This work forms part of the larger ‘Beyond Moose’ research project. My aims are (i) to quantify how patterns of resource sharing and partitioning among members of the ungulate community vary at multiple foraging scales across the seasonal cycle along gradients of ungulate diversity, productivity and human land use and (ii) to determine how ungulates influence each other’s resource availability through direct and indirect exploitation competition as well as possible facilitative effects on shared resources.

In order to investigate spatial and temporal variation in diet overlap and partitioning among ungulates I largely rely on eDNA (dung pellets) which are collected across several sites in Sweden and I then use DNA metabarcoding to determine diet composition.


2015 PhD student

2013-2015 MSc, Management of Fish and Wildlife Populations, SLU, Umeå

1998-2005 MSc, Forestry Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

Selected publications

Pfeffer, S.E., Spitzer, R., Allen, A.M., Hofmeester, T.R., Ericsson, G., Widemo, F., Singh, N.J., Cromsigt, J.P.G.M. (2017) Pictures or pellets? Comparing camera trapping and dung counts as methods for estimating population densities of ungulates. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation.

Spitzer, R., Norman, A. J., Schneider, M., & Spong, G. (2016). Estimating population size using single‐nucleotide polymorphism‐based pedigree data. Ecology and Evolution, 6(10), 3174–3184.