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Oecologia

, Volume 165, Issue 4, pp 891–903 | Cite as

Summer movements, predation and habitat use of wolves in human modified boreal forests

  • Eliezer GurarieEmail author
  • Johanna Suutarinen
  • Ilpo Kojola
  • Otso Ovaskainen
Behavioral ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

Grey wolves (Canis lupus), formerly extirpated in Finland, have recolonized a boreal forest environment that has been significantly altered by humans, becoming a patchwork of managed forests and clearcuts crisscrossed by roads, power lines, and railways. Little is known about how the wolves utilize this impacted ecosystem, especially during the pup-rearing summer months. We tracked two wolves instrumented with GPS collars transmitting at 30-min intervals during two summers in eastern Finland, visiting all locations in the field, identifying prey items and classifying movement behaviors. We analyzed preference and avoidance of habitat types, linear elements and habitat edges, and tested the generality of our results against lower resolution summer movements of 23 other collared wolves. Wolves tended to show a strong preference for transitional woodlands (mostly harvested clearcuts) and mixed forests over coniferous forests and to use forest roads and low use linear elements to facilitate movement. The high density of primary roads in one wolf’s territory led to more constrained use of the home territory compared to the wolf with fewer roads, suggesting avoidance of humans; however, there did not appear to be large differences on the hunting success or the success of pup rearing for the two packs. In total, 90 kills were identified, almost entirely moose (Alces alces) and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus sspp.) calves of which a large proportion were killed in transitional woodlands. Generally, wolves displayed a high level of adaptability, successfully exploiting direct and indirect human-derived modifications to the boreal forest environment.

Keywords

Canis lupus GPS telemetry Habitat preference Alces alces Rangifer tarandus 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank A. Hakala, M. Kaakko, L. Kartano, S. Kauppinen, S. Kokko, L. Korhonen, K. Moisio, R. Ovaskainen, S. Ronkainen, M. Suominen, M. Tikkunen and M. Valtonen for invaluable assistance in the field, including capture and ground tracking. H. Kujala, K. Laidre, J. Lehtomäki and E. Meyke helped with GIS data processing. K. Laidre, B. Van Moorter and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant no. 205905 to O.O.) and the Academy of Finland (Grant no. 124242 to O.O.).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliezer Gurarie
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Johanna Suutarinen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ilpo Kojola
    • 4
  • Otso Ovaskainen
    • 2
  1. 1.National Marine Mammal LaboratoryNOAA FisheriesSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Zoological MuseumUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  4. 4.Oulu Game and Fisheries ResearchFinnish Game and Fisheries Research InstituteOuluFinland

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