Our latest cover photo, taken by Marcus Meißner shows a red deer stag amidst an area of common broom the Grafenwöhr military training area (GTA), Germany. Besides disturbances caused by military training activities and mechanical land management, grazing by wild red deer contributes to maintaining open habitats on GTA.

Friederike Riesch, lead author of the corresponding article, Grazing by wild red deer: Management options for the conservation of semi‐natural open habitats, tells us more about the story behind the photo.

The picture shows a red deer (Cervus elaphus) stag in early autumn amidst an area of common broom (Cytisus scoparius) in the military training area Grafenwöhr (GTA), Germany. More than one third of GTA consists of open landscapes including many different habitat types. Large parts of the military training area are unmanaged. These areas, covered by vegetation in different successional stages, are only affected by disturbances from military training activities (such as fire or ground scarification) and red deer grazing.

Areas dominated by common broom are mainly located in the centre of GTA, where fires are frequent. When the shrubs reach a certain height, they become an attractive habitat for red deer, providing food and shelter outside of forest areas. Scattered remnants of military training in these areas tell of the more than 100 years of military land use in GTA.

Grazing by wild red deer: Management options for the conservation of semi‐natural open habitats is also the Editor’s Choice article for issue 56:6. Find out more about it here.