, Volume 91, Issue 10, pp 489–492 | Cite as

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

  • Isabel BarjaEmail author
  • Francisco Javier de Miguel
  • Felipe Bárcena
Short Communication


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.


Correction Coefficient Canis Lupus Scent Mark Wolf Population Asphalt Road 
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We thank Xunta de Galicia for the use of the facilities during the field work, T. Pérez and B. Barrio for their collaboration, A. Gago for help in the field work, and R. Hermida and L. Lagos for their participation in some surveys. We thank A.M. Vieytes for reviewing the mathematical design of the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Barja
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francisco Javier de Miguel
    • 1
  • Felipe Bárcena
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Parasitología, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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