Skip to main content

What does the wild boar mean to the wolf?

Abstract

Generalist predators are expected to shape their diets according to the local availability of prey species. In turn, the extent of consumption of a prey would be influenced by the number of alternative prey species. We have tested this prediction by considering the wild boar and the grey wolf: two widespread species whose distribution ranges overlap largely in Southern Europe, e.g. in Italy. We have reviewed 16 studies from a total of 21 study areas, to assess whether the absolute frequency of occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet was influenced by (i) occurrence of the other ungulate species in diet and (ii) the number of available ungulate species. Wild boar turned out to be the main prey of the wolf (49% occurrence, on average), followed by roe deer (24%) and livestock (18%). Occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet decreased with increasing usage of roe deer, livestock, and to a lower extent, chamois and red deer. The number of prey species did not influence the occurrence of wild boar in the wolf diet. The wild boar is a gregarious, noisy and often locally abundant ungulate, thus easily detectable, to a predator. In turn, the extent of predation on this ungulate may not be influenced so much by the availability of other potential prey. Heavy artificial reductions of wild boar numbers, e.g. through numerical control, may concentrate predation by wolves on alternative prey (e.g. roe deer) and/or livestock, thus increasing conflicts with human activities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  • Acevedo P, Cassinello J (2009) Human-induced range expansion of wild ungulates causes niche overlap between previously allopatric species: reed deer and Iberian ibex in mountainous regions of southern Spain. Ann Zool Fennici 46:39–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Apollonio M, Andersen R, Putman R (eds) (2010) European ungulates and their management in the twenty-first century. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Bargagli L (2006) Analisi alimentare del lupo sul Monte Amiata. In: Lovari S, Sangiuliano A (ed.) Il lupo sul Monte Amiata. Comunità Montana Amiata Grosseto, Ministero dell’Ambiente, Ambiente, Arcidosso e Roma, Italy: 73–98

  • Barja I (2009) Prey and prey-age preference by the Iberian wolf Canis lupus signatus in a multiple-prey ecosystem. Wildl Biol 15:147–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrios-Garcia MN, Ballari SA (2012) Impact of wild boar (Sus scrofa) in its introduced and native range: a review. Biol Inv 14:2283–2300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bartòn K (2012) Package “MuMIn: Multi-model inference” for R, R Package Version 1.6.6 (http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=MuMIn). Downloaded on 30th May 2016

  • Bassi E, Donaggio E, Marcon A, Scandura M, Apollonio M (2012) Trophic niche overlap and wild ungulate consumption by red fox and wolf in a mountain area in Italy. Mamm Biol 77:369–376

    Google Scholar 

  • Baudrot V, Perasso A, Fritsch C, Giraudoux P, Raoul F (2016) The adaptation of generalist predators’ diet in a multi-prey context: insights from new functional responses. Ecology DOI. doi:10.1890/15-0427.1

    Google Scholar 

  • Benatti L (2015) Variazioni geografiche dell’alimentazione del lupo Canis lupus L., 1758 in Italia. Tesi di Laurea in Scienze Biologiche, Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Università degli Studi di Siena, Italy

  • Beschta RL, Ripple WJ (2009) Large predators and trophic cascades in terrestrial ecosystems of the western United States. Biol Cons 142:2401–2414

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boitani L, Ciucci P (1996) Programma di ricerca e gestione del lupo in Toscana. Relazione all’Amministrazione Regionale Toscana, Firenze

    Google Scholar 

  • Bon R, Gonzalez G, Im S, Badia J (1990) Seasonal grouping in female mouflons in relation to food availability. Ethology 86:224–236

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borrelli S (2010) La dieta del lupo (Canis lupus) nel massiccio del Pollino. Tesi di laurea in Scienze Naturali, Università della Calabria, Italy

  • Brielli N (2011) La dieta del lupo (Canis lupus L, 1758) in Liguria in relazione all’abbondanza dei grandi erbivori domestici e selvatici. Tesi di laurea in Scienze Matematiche, Fisiche e Naturali, Università degli studi di Pavia, Italy

  • Burnham KP, Anderson DR (1998) Model selection and inference: a practical information—theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Cahill S, Llimona F, Gràcia J (2003) Spacing and nocturnal activity of wild boar Sus scrofa in a Mediterranean metropolitan park. Wildl Biol 9:3–13

    Google Scholar 

  • Carnevali L, Pedrotti L, Riga F, Toso S (2009) Banca Dati Ungulati: status, distribuzione, consistenza, gestione e prelievo venatorio delle popolazioni di Ungulati in Italia. Rapporto 2001-2005. Biol Cons Fauna 117:1–168

    Google Scholar 

  • Chapron G, Kaczensky P, Linnel JDC, von Arx M, Huber D, Andrèn H, Lòpez-Bao JV, Adamec M, Alvares F, Anders O, Balčiauskas L, Balys V, Bedö P, Bego F, Blanco JC, Breitenmoser U, Brøseth H, Bufka L, Bunikyte R, Ciucci P, Dutsov A, Engleder T, Fuxjäger C, Groff C, Holmala K, Hoxha B, Iliopoulos Y, Ionescu O, Jeremić J, Jerina K, Kluth G, Knauer F, Kojola I, Kos I, Krofel M, Kubala J, Kunovac S, Kusak J, Kutal M, Liberg O, Majić A, Männil P, Mertzanis Y, Myslayek RW, Nowak S, Odden J, Ozolins J, Palomero G, Paunović M, Persson J, Potočnik H, Quenette PY, Rauer G, Reinhardt I, Rigg R, Ryser A, Salvatori V, Skrbinšek T, Stojanov A, Swenson JE, Szemethy L, Trajçe A, Tsingarska-Sedefcheva E, Váňa M, Veeroja R, Wabakken P, Wölfl M, Wölfl S, Zimmermann F, Zlatanova D, Boitani L (2014) Recovery of large carnivores in Europe’s modern human-dominated landscapes. Science 346:1517–1519

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ciucci P, Boitani L, Raganella Pelliccioni E, Rocco M, Guy I (1996) A comparison of scat-analysis method to assess the diet of the wolf Canis lupus. Wildl Biol 2:37–48

    Google Scholar 

  • Dardaillon M (1988) Wild boar social groupings and their seasonal changes in the Camargue, southern France. Z Säugetierkunde 53:22–30

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis ML, Stephens PA, Willis SG, Bassi E, Marcon A, Donaggio E, Capitani C, Apollonio M (2012) Prey selection by an apex predator: the importance of sampling uncertainty. PlosONE 7:e47894

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fernàndez-Llario P, Carranza J, Hidalgo de Trucios SJ (1996) Social organization of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Doñana National Park. Miscellània Zoològica 19:9–18

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferreras P, Rodriguez A, Palomares F, Delibes M (2010) The difficult recovery of a critically endangered cat. In: Macdonald DW, Loveridge AJ (eds) Biology and conservation of wild felids. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 507–520

    Google Scholar 

  • Fortin D, Beyer HL, Boyce MS, Smith DW, Duchesne T, Mao JS (2005) Wolves influence elk movements: behavior shapes a trophic cascade in Yellowstone National Park. Ecology 86:1320–1330

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gaillard JM, Pontier D, Brandt S, Jullien JM, Allain D (1992) Sex differentiation in postnatal growth curve: a test in wild boar population. Oecologia 90:167–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Galaverni M, Caniglia R, Fabbri E, Milanesi P, Randi E (2015) One, no one, or one thousand: how many wolves are there currently in Italy? Mamm Res 61:13–24

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garrott RA, Bruggeman JE, Becker MS, Kalinowski ST, White PJ (2007) Evaluating prey switching in wolf-ungulate systems. Ecol Appl 17:1588–1597

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gazzola A, Bertelli I, Avanzinelli E, Tolosano A, Bertotto P, Apollonio M (2005) Predation by wolves (Canis lupus) on wild and domestic ungulates of the western alps. Ital J Zool 266:205–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gazzola A, Avanzinelli E, Bertelli I, Tolosano A, Bertotto P, Musso R, Apollonio M (2007) The role of the wolf in shaping a multi-species ungulate community in Italian western alps. Ital J Zool 74:297–307

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert BK (1968) Development of social behaviour in the fallow deer (Dama dama). Z Tierpsychol 25:868–876

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ježek M, Štípek K, Kušta T, Červený J, Vícha J (2011) Reproductive and morphometric characteristics of wild boar in the Czech Republic. J Forest Sci 57:285–292

    Google Scholar 

  • Keuling O, Stier N, Roth M (2008) How does hunting influence activity and spatial usage in wild boar Sus scrofa L.? Eur J Wildl Res 54:729–737

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Le Pendu Y, Briedermann L, Gerard JF, Maublanc ML (1995) Inter-individual associations and social structure of a mouflon population (Ovis orientalis musimon). Behav Proc 34:67–80

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lovari C, Siemoni N, Castellani F, Centofanti E, Fasoli G (1995) Studio sulla biologia del lupo in rapporto alla presenza di ungulati selvatici e domestici nel Parco. D.R.E.A.M ITALIA, Pistoia

  • Lovari S, Riga F (2016) Manuale di gestione della fauna. Greentime publishers, Bologna

    Google Scholar 

  • Lovari S, Minder I, Ferretti F, Mucci N, Randi E, Pellizzi B (2013) Common and snow leopards share prey, but not habitats: competition avoidance by large predators? J Zool (Lond) 291:127–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacArthur RH, Pianka EL (1966) On optimal time use of a patchy environment. Am Nat 100:603–609

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maillard D, Fournier P (1995) Effects of shooting with hounds on size of resting range of wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) groups in Mediterranean habitats. Ibex J Mountain Ecol 3:102–107

    Google Scholar 

  • Massei G, Kindberg J, Licoppe A, Gačic D, Šprem N, Kamler J, Baubet E, Hohmann U, Monaco A, Ozoliņš J, Cellina S, Podgòrski T, Fonseca C, Markov N, Pokorny B, Rosell C, Nàhlik A (2014) Wild boar populations up, number of hunters down? A review of trends and implication for Europe. Pest Manag Sci 71:492–500

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mattioli L, Apollonio M, Mazzarone V, Centofanti E (1995) Wolf food habits and wild ungulate availability in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, Italy. Acta Theriol 40:387–402

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mattioli L, Capitani C, Avanzinelli E, Bertelli I, Gazzola A, Apollonio M (2004) Predation by wolf (Canis lupus) on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in north-eastern Apennines. Ital J Zool 264:1–10

    Google Scholar 

  • Mech LD (1970) The wolf: the ecology and behavior of an endangered species. The Natural History Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Meriggi A, Lovari S (1996) A review of wolf predation in southern Europe: does the wolf prefer wild prey to livestock? J Appl Ecol 33:1561–1571

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meriggi A, Brangi A, Matteucci C, Sacchi O (1996) The feeding habits of wolves in relation to large prey availability in northern Italy. Ecography 19:287–295

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meriggi A, Brangi A, Schenone L, Signorelli D, Milanesi P (2011) Changes of wolf (Canis lupus) diet in Italy in relation to the increase of wild ungulate abundance. Ethol Ecol Evol 23:195–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meriggi A, Dagradi V, Dondina O, Perversi M, Milanesi P, Lombardini M, Raviglione S, Repossi A (2015) Short-term responses of wolf feeding habits to changes of wild and domestic ungulate abundance in northern Italy. Ethol Ecol Evol 27:1–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Milanesi P, Meriggi A, Merli E (2012) Selection of wild ungulates by wolf Canis lupus (L. 1758) in an area of the northern Appennines (North Italy). Ethol Ecol Evol 24:81–96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Newsome TM, Boitani L, Chapron G, Ciucci P, Dickman CR, Dellinger JA, Lòpez-Bao JV, Peterson RO, Shores CR, Wirsing AJ, Ripple WJ (2016) Food habits of the world’s grey wolves. Mammal Rev doi. doi:10.1111/mam.12067

    Google Scholar 

  • Okarma H (1997) The trophic ecology of wolves and their predatory role in ungulate communities of forest ecosystems in Europe. Acta Theriol 40:335–387

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Patalano M (2003) La predazione sul bestiame domestico e l’ecologia alimentare del lupo nel Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. Relazione finale Ente Autonomo Parco Nazionale Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, Assergi (L’Aquila), Italy

  • Patalano M, Lovari S (1993) Food habits and trophic niche overlap of the wolf and the red fox in a Mediterranean mountain area. Rev Ecol (Terre Vie) 48:279–294

    Google Scholar 

  • Portier C, Duncan P, Gaillard JM, Guillon N, Sempèrè AJ (2000) Growth of European roe deer: patterns and rates. Acta Theriol 45:87–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Putman RJ (1984) Facts from faeces. Mammal Rev 14:79–97

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scillitani L, Monaco A, Toso S (2010) Do intensive drive hunts affect wild boar (Sus scrofa) spatial behaviour in Italy? Some evidences and management implications. Eur J Wildl Res 56:307–318

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sinclair ARE, Mduma S, Brashares JS (2003) Patterns of predation in a diverse predator-prey system. Nature 425:288–290

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Suraci JP, Clinchy M, Dill LM, Roberts D, Zanette LY (2016) Fear of large carnivores causes a trophic cascade. Nat Comm 7:10698

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Svensson E (2012) Drevjaktens sekundära effekter på dovhinden (Dama dama). [The secondary effect of drive hunts on female fallow deer (Dama dama)]. Student Report 405, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health, Ethology and Animal Welfare programme, Skara, Sweden

  • Terraube J, Guixè D, Arroyo B (2014) Diet composition and foraging success in generalist predators: are specialist individuals better foragers? Basic Appl Ecol 15:616–624

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tolon V, Dray S, Loison A, Zeileis A, Fischer C, Baubet E (2009) Responding to spatial and temporal variations in predation risk: space use of a game species in a changing landscape of fear. Can J Zool 87:1129–1137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vercillo F, Ragni B (2012) The diet of wolf in Umbria from 1967 until today: a story about a predator. Hystrix It J Mamm supp. 2012: 191

Download references

Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Nicola Salomone and, in particular, to Marianna Patalano, who kindly provided us with their unpublished data on the diet of wolf. An anonymous reviewer and Alberto Meriggi improved our first draft with their comments.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sandro Lovari.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mori, E., Benatti, L., Lovari, S. et al. What does the wild boar mean to the wolf?. Eur J Wildl Res 63, 9 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-016-1060-7

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-016-1060-7

Keywords

  • Large carnivores
  • Feeding ecology
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Predator-prey relationships
  • Ungulates