Functional response of wolves to human development across boreal North America

Ecology and Evolution
Tyler B MuhlyMarco Musiani

Abstract

The influence of humans on large carnivores, including wolves, is a worldwide conservation concern. In addition, human-caused changes in carnivore density and distribution might have impacts on prey and, indirectly, on vegetation. We therefore tested wolf responses to infrastructure related to natural resource development (i.e., human footprint). Our study provides one of the most extensive assessments of how predators like wolves select habitat in response to various degrees of footprint across boreal ecosystems encompassing over a million square kilometers of Canada. We deployed GPS-collars on 172 wolves, monitored movements and used a generalized functional response (GFR) model of resource selection. A functional response in habitat selection occurs when selection varies as a function of the availability of that habitat. GFRs can clarify how human-induced habitat changes are influencing wildlife across large, diverse landscapes. Wolves displayed a functional response to footprint. Wolves were more likely to select forest harvest cutblocks in regions with higher cutblock density (i.e., a positive functional response to high-quality habitats for ungulate prey) and to select for higher road density in regions where road density...Continue Reading

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Citations

Dec 13, 2019·Royal Society Open Science·Shawn T O'NeilJoseph K Bump
Oct 22, 2020·Scientific Reports·Erin E PoorJennifer M Mullinax

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