, Volume 173, Issue 3, pp 813-825

Home range size variation in a recovering wolf population: evaluating the effect of environmental, demographic, and social factors

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Abstract

Home range size in mammals is a key ecological trait and an important parameter in conservation planning, and has been shown to be influenced by ecological, demographic and social factors in animal populations. Information on space requirements is especially important for carnivore species which range over very large areas and often come into direct conflict with human interest. We used long-term telemetry-location data from a recovering wolf population in Scandinavia to investigate variation in home range size in relation to environmental and social characteristics of the different packs. Wolves showed considerable variation in home range size, which ranged from 259 to 1,676 km2. Although wolf density increased fourfold during the study period, we found no evidence that intraspecific competition influenced range size. Local variation in moose density, which was the main prey for most packs, did not influence wolf home range size. Home ranges increased with latitude and elevation and decreased with increased roe deer density. Although prey biomass alone did not influence range size, our data suggest that there is a correlation between habitat characteristics, choice of prey species and possible hunting success, which currently combine to shape home range size in Scandinavian wolves.

Communicated by Christopher Johnson.