Short Communication

Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 91, Issue 10, pp 489-492

First online:

The importance of crossroads in faecal marking behaviour of the wolves (Canis lupus)

  • Isabel BarjaAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Email author 
  • , Francisco Javier de MiguelAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , Felipe BárcenaAffiliated withLaboratorio de Parasitología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela

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Abstract

For wolves (Canis lupus) scats play an important function in territorial marking behaviour. Depositing scats at strategic sites such as crossroads and on conspicuous substrates probably increases their effectiveness as visual and olfactory marks. It is therefore likely that scats will be deposited, and will accumulate, at particular crossroads where the probability of being detected by other wolves is greatest. To check this hypothesis, a wolf population in NW Spain was studied for two consecutive years, from May 1998 to March 2000, and the spatial distribution of 311 scats detected along roads (both at and away from crossroads) was analysed. This study was conducted over an area of 12,000 ha in Montes do Invernadeiro Natural Park. The results confirm that wolves preferably deposit their scats at crossroads (60.1%) and on conspicuous substrates (72.1%). Significantly more scats were found at intersections with numerous, easily passable roads connecting distant territories. Thus, wolves preferably deposit their faeces at crossroads with high accessibility and driveability. The larger the surface area of the crossroads, the more scats were found. Crossroads are therefore highly strategic points that facilitate the detection of scats.