The causes and consequences of partial prey consumption by wolves preying on moose
- 454 Downloads
For a wide range of taxa, partial prey consumption (PPC) is a frequent occurrence. PPC may arise from physiological constraints to gut capacity or digestive rate. Alternatively, PPC may represent an optimal foraging strategy. Assessments that clearly distinguish between these causes are rare and have been conducted only for invertebrate species that are ambush predators with extra-intestinal digestion (e.g., wolf spiders). We present the first strong test for the cause of PPC in a cursorial vertebrate predator with intestinal digestion: wolves (Canis lupus) feeding on moose (Alces alces). Previous theoretical assessments indicate that if PPC represents an optimal foraging strategy and is not caused by physiological limitations, then mean carcass utilization is negatively correlated with mean kill rate and the utilization of individual carcasses is uncorrelated with time between kills. Wolves exhibit exactly this pattern. We explore how the typical portrayal of PPC by wolves has been not only misleading but also detrimental to conservation by promoting negative attitudes toward wolves.
KeywordsAlces alces Canis lupus Numerical response Optimal foraging Predator–prey dynamics
We thank the US National Science Foundation (DEB-0918247) and the US National Park Service for financial support.
This work complies with the current Michigan Technological University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee guidelines, which are guided by the US federal regulations and ethical principles, intended to ensure the humane care and use of animals in research.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Boitani L (2003) Wolf conservation and recovery. In: Mech LD, Boitani L (eds) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 317–340Google Scholar
- Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2010) Model selection and multi-model inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Calder WA (1984) Size, function, and life history. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Charnov EL (1976) Optimal foraging, the marginal value theorem. Theor Popul Biol 9:129–136Google Scholar
- Ehrlinge S, Bergsten B, Kristiansson B (1974) The stoat and its prey: hunting behavior and escape reactions. Fauna Flora 69:203–211Google Scholar
- Eide SH, Ballard WB (1982) Apparent case of surplus killing of caribou by gray wolves. Can Field-Nat 96:87–88Google Scholar
- Fuller TK, Mech LD, Cochrane JF (2003) Wolf population dynamics. In: Mech LD, Boitani L (eds) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 161–191Google Scholar
- Johnson DM, Akre BG, Crowley PH (1975) Modeling arthropod predation: wasteful killing by damselfly naiads. Ecology 56:1080–1093Google Scholar
- Krebs CJ, Boutin S, Boonstra R (2001) Ecosystem dynamics of the boreal forest: the Kluane project. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Lang A, Klarenbeg AJ (1997) Experiments on the foraging behaviour of the hunting spider Pisaura mirabilis (Araneae: Pisauridae): utilization of single prey items. Eur J Entomol 94:453–459Google Scholar
- McCay CM (1949) Nutrition of the dog. Comstock, IthacaGoogle Scholar
- Mech LD (1966) The wolves of Isle Royale. Natl. Park Service Sci. Monogr. Ser. No. 7. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Mech LD, Frenzel LD (eds) (1971) Ecological studies of the timber wolf on northeastern Minnesota. USDA Forest Service Research Paper NC-52. North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, 62 ppGoogle Scholar
- Mech LD, Peterson RO (2003) Wolf–prey relationships. In: Mech LD, Boitani L (eds) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 131–160Google Scholar
- Mech LD, Adams LG, Meier TJ, Burch JW, Dale BW (1998) The wolves of Denali. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
- Nakamura K (1977) A model for the functional response of a predator to varying prey densities; based on the feeding ecology of wolf spiders. Bull Nat Inst Agric Sci 31:29–89Google Scholar
- Patterson BR (1994) Surplus killing of white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, by coyotes, Canis latrans, in Nova Scotia. Can Field-Nat 108:484–487Google Scholar
- Peterson RO (1977) Wolf ecology and prey relationships on Isle Royale. National Park Service Scientific Monograph Series Number 11. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Peterson RO, Allen DL (1974) Snow conditions as a parameter in moose–wolf relationships. Nat Can 101:481–492Google Scholar
- Peterson RO, Ciucci P (2003) The wolf as a carnivore. In: Mech LD, Boitani L (eds) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 104–130Google Scholar
- Pimlott DH, Shannon JA, Kolenosky GB (1969) The ecology of the timber wolf in Algonquin Provincial park, Ontario. Research Report (Wildlife), No. 87. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Toronto, 92 ppGoogle Scholar
- Pollard SD (1989) Constraints affecting partial prey consumption by a crab spider, Diea sp. indet. (Araneae, Thomisidae). Oecologia 81:392–396Google Scholar
- Reynolds PE, Reynolds HV, Shideler R (2002) Predation and multiple kills of muskoxen by grizzly bears. Ursus 13:79–84Google Scholar
- Vucetich JA, Hebblewhite M, Smith DW, Peterson RO (2011) Predicting prey population dynamics from kill rate, predation rate and predator–prey ratios in three wolf-ungulate systems. J Animal Ecol. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01855
- Young SP, Goldman EA (1944) The wolves of North America. American Wildlands Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar