, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 255-263

Diet composition of wolvesCanis lupus in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China

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Abstract

From August 1998 to August 2001, 119 wolf scats were collected from the desert in a pastoral region in northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China. The study area is the last habitat for the critically endangered Przewalski’s gazelleProcapra przewalskii. Wolf predation was hypothesized as a cause of the endangerment of the Przewalski’s gazelle. The diet of wolf during the plant green period (June-September) and the plant withering period (October-May) were determined using three scat-analysis methods: frequency of occurrence, mass in scats and the ingested biomass obtained with the linear regression models of Weaver (1993). Limited to mammalian prey, total agreement was found between the dry weight and biomass methods, but less so between the frequency of occurrence data and other methods. Hare, yak, and small rodents were the important prey species of the wolves during the plant green period, each accounting for 33, 27, and 20%. Yak, sheep and hare were the important prey species during the plant withering period, each accounting for 53, 25, and 17%. Other food types were badger, Przewalski’s gazelle, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and plants. The presence of the livestock remains in the wolf’s scats may imply scavenging behavior by the wolves, because few cases of missing livestock were reported during the study. No notable seasonal difference in the diet composition of the wolves was found. The food niche of wolf during the plant green period (0.55 ± 0.02) was similar to that during the plant withering period (0.50 ± 0.02).

Associate Editor was Bogumła Jędrzejewska.