Mammalian Biology

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Food habits of wolves and selection of wild ungulates in a prey-rich Mediterranean coastal area

  • Francesco FerrettiEmail author
  • Sandro Lovari
  • Valentina Mancino
  • Lucia Burrini
  • Mariana Rossa
Original investigation


Large carnivores are increasing throughout the western Holarctic, re-colonising large parts of their former ranges. Ecological (e.g., predator-prey relationships) and socio-economic (e.g., livestock depredation) consequences of this process need to be monitored, to identify suitable management/conservation actions. We studied food habits and selection of main prey by wolves in a Mediterranean protected coastal area (Uccellina Hills in the Maremma Regional Park, c. 70 km2, central Italy, May 2016–April 2018), including sclerophyllic scrubwood, pinewood, wetlands and mixed rural-wood habitats. Potential prey include wild boar, fallow deer and roe deer (c. 25–30 individuals/100 ha, in summer, all species together), livestock (mainly cattle and sheep, c. 20 heads/100 ha, overall) and several species of mesomammals. Overall, wild ungulates dominated the diet (c. 90% of absolute occurrence, relative occurrence or volume), with the fallow deer being the main prey (absolute occurrence, AO: 55%; relative occurrence, RO: 42%; volume, V: 44%) followed by the wild boar (AO: 48%; RO: 36% V: 33%). Livestock was rarely used (2%, both AO and V); the coypu (AO: 8%; RO: 6%; V: 6%) was another important food item. Fallow deer and wild boar dominated summer diet, whereas the use alternative prey increased in winter. Fallow deer were selected, wild boar were used according to their availability, whereas roe deer were used less than availability. Prey selection was probably driven by the greater accessibility and detectability of fallow deer, which are gregarious and attended mainly open habitats on lower ground, in respect to wild boar/roe deer. Most likely, availability of a diverse spectrum of meso-large prey and a comparatively lower accessibility of livestock are key-factors to limit livestock consumption.


Carnivores Diet Interspecific interactions Predator-prey relationships 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Ferretti
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sandro Lovari
    • 1
    • 3
  • Valentina Mancino
    • 1
  • Lucia Burrini
    • 1
  • Mariana Rossa
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Unit of Behavioural Ecology, Ethology and Wildlife Management, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Maremma Regional Park AgencyAlberese GrossetoItaly
  3. 3.Maremma Natural History MuseumGrossetoItaly
  4. 4.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal

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