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CRFJH7 A black wolf (Canis lupus) from the Mollies pack surveys the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Do apex predators need to regulate prey populations to be a right conservation target?. Martínez-Abraín A, Llaneza L, Ballesteros F, Grandal-d’Anglade A. Biological Conservation. 2021 Sep

ABSTRACT

Some authors consider that apex predators that cannot regulate prey populations are not a complete conservation target. We argue that this image originates in northern latitudes where cultural models of wildness have developed further due to contingent historical and social reasons. In southern European ecosystems apex predators usually cannot regulate prey populations, acting as scavengers or vegetarian. As a consequence, prey are often regulated by bottom-up mechanisms, such as density-dependent disease or food availability. This should not be seen as a downgrading of predator functionality in ecosystems, but just as another type of ecosystem organization. Actually, the species that we now call apex predators were part of much richer predator communities in the Pleistocene, where they behaved as mesopredators (wolf) or already had vegetarian diets (southern brown bear). Species functionality shows spatiotemporal heterogeneity, and this variability needs to be taken into account and incorporated to conservation plans on a case by case basis, to improve their success rates and human-wildlife coexistence.

Acoustic interaction between a pair of owls and a wolf. Marti-Domken B, Palacios V, Barber Meyer SM. Western North American Naturalist. 2021

ABSTRACT

During summer 2019, we recorded an apparent vocal interaction, lasting just under 4 min, between a pair of Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) and a gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park. To our knowledge, this is the first report of such an acoustic interaction in the scientific literature. The increased use of passive acoustic recorders, which record spontaneous vocalizations emitted by animals over long periods, will allow us to better document and study the importance of such interspecific interactions.

Large carnivore response to human road use suggests a landscape of coexistence. Kautz TM, Fowler NL, Petroelje TR, Beyer DE, Svoboda NJ, Belant JL. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2021 Aug

ABSTRACT

Coexistence between humans and large carnivores may depend on carnivore adaptations to use developed landscapes while reducing human encounters. Roads are a widespread form of human development that carnivores may perceive as efficient travel routes or centers of human activity and associated risk. We compared the spatio-temporal responses of carnivores to human road use with high-resolution tracking of a large carnivore guild including American black bears (Ursus americanus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), coyotes (Canis latrans), and wolves (C. lupus) in Michigan, USA. All carnivores selected for roads when traveling at night but avoided roads during the day when human activity was greatest. Human activity explained 90% of temporal variation in road use across carnivore species, with a 3.2–3.7-fold increase in road use at times of low human activity which reduced carnivore activity overlap with humans by 27–42%. Similar but less pronounced activity changes occurred in areas up to 500 m from roads. Bears and wolves increased nocturnal activity with more roads in their home range, but not bobcats or coyotes. Despite increased diurnal activity in areas farther from roads, temporal overlap among carnivores was high regardless of road proximity. Our results suggest that spatio-temporal responses to roads were similar among carnivores and emphasized avoidance of humans over other carnivore species. Further, we provide support that carnivores can be diurnally active while avoiding humans by using areas farther from roads. However, carnivores which are primarily diurnal (e.g., black bears) or have a strong proclivity for using roads (e.g., wolves) likely require greater behavioral changes to avoid humans. Behavioral adaptations allowing multiple species to use and cross roads while avoiding humans are encouraging for human-carnivore coexistence.

Morphometric variation in wolves and golden jackal in India (Mammalia, Carnivora). Srinivas Y, Jhala Y. Biodiversity Data Journal. 2021 Aug

Blackbuck Anfilope cervicapra (Mammalia: Cetartiodactyla: Bovidae) estimates in human-dominated landscape in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. Ahamad M, Khan JA, Kumar S. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 2021 Aug

Using LiDAR and Random Forest to improve deer habitat models in a managed forest landscape. Shanley CS, Eacker DR, Reynolds CP, Bennetsen BM, Gilbert SL. Forest Ecology and Management. 2021 Nov

Herders’ aversion to wildlife population increases in grassland ecosystem conservation: Evidence from a choice experiment study. Shi Y, Li C, Zhao M. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2021 Aug

ABSTRACT

The neglect of wildlife in grassland ecosystem conservation may lead to severe ecological consequences. Humans use more than 99% of the natural grassland in China, but local herders’ attitude and willingness to pay for wildlife conservation in grassland ecological restoration have not been studied. This study evaluated local herders’ preferences and willingness to pay for increasing the wildlife population in grassland ecosystem conservation through a choice experiment in Siziwang Banner and Damao Banner of Inner Mongolia, China. The results show that herders have a positive preference for improving vegetation coverage, grassland landscape, and groundwater level, but they are averse to the growth of the wildlife population, and their preferences toward the issue are heterogeneous. The sources of heterogeneity include the gender of the respondents, whether they are village cadres, whether their families raise sheep, whether they are preparing for migration and family size. Sheep farmers, female respondents, non-village cadres, smaller families, and those preparing for migration are more opposed to the increase in wildlife population than the other groups. An increase in wildlife will cause welfare loss among herders. Specifically, the average marginal willingness to pay for the rise in the frequency of wildlife sightings is −21.57 CNY (1 USD = 6.7744 CNY) per year, and the total welfare loss of herder households in the study area is 1.22 million CNY per year due to each unit increase in the frequency of wildlife sightings. We suggest that herders’ support for wildlife conservation should be gained through education and ecological compensation to avoid unexpected grassland ecological consequences. Our results are applicable globally because most natural grasslands are under human use, and the conflict between wildlife and humans has been observed globally.

Wolf use of humanmade objects during pup-rearing. Animal Behavior and Cognition, Ausband, D.E., 2021

ABSTRACT

Some animals use humanmade objects for building and constructing nests or shelter and even for play. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) gather and use humanmade objects discovered in their natural environment. Gathering humanmade objects is a peculiar behavior particularly when there is no immediately apparent benefit to survival or reproduction. I opportunistically documented 46 different types of humanmade objects with plastic bottles and aluminum cans being the most common items found at wolf pup-rearing sites. Many objects were made of materials that appeared suitable to alleviate pain in teething pups. For some objects, however, it was not immediately obvious that they would alleviate teething pain due to their unpliable material. Additionally, such objects were quite rare in wolves’ natural environment although it was not uncommon to find them at pup-rearing sites. Rare humanmade objects may provide a novelty that stimulates pups more than common objects. I hypothesize that objects used by wolf pups 1) alleviate pain from teething, and 2) provide adults respite from energetic pups. The latter is an important distinction because it implies the benefit of object play is to the adults and not the pups per se. Gathering novel objects that occupy energetic and hungry pups may influence the overall ability of social carnivores to leave young unattended while they hunt, to rest upon their return, and ultimately rear young successfully.

Negative frequency-dependent prey selection by wolves and its implications on predator–prey dynamics. Hoy SR, MacNulty DR, Metz MC, Smith DW, Stahler DR, Peterson RO, Vucetich JA. Animal Behaviour. 2021 Sep

ABSTRACT

Many species exhibit selective foraging behaviour, where consumers use a nonrandom subset of available food types. Yet little is known about how selective foraging behaviour varies with environmental conditions and the community level consequences of such selection dynamics. We examined selective foraging by wolves preying primarily on elk in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) over a 12-year period and on moose in Isle Royale National Park (IRNP) over a 47-year period. Specifically, we assessed how selection for calves and senescent adults varied with their frequency in the environment, wolf abundance and winter severity. Selection for senescent adults decreased as the relative abundance of senescent prey increased (i.e. negative frequency-dependent selection) in both study sites. In IRNP, selection for calves was also negatively frequency dependent and declined with increasing wolf abundance. These results are inconsistent with the pattern of positive frequency-dependent selection expected under the prey-switching hypothesis. These results suggest that selection is primarily driven by intraspecific differences in prey vulnerability and wolves’ interest in minimizing their risk of injury, as opposed to maximizing intake rates. Lastly, we ran simulations to evaluate how predator–prey dynamics were influenced by dynamic patterns of selection, like those observed in YNP and IRNP. The simulations indicated that predators are more efficient (i.e. steeper slope of the numerical response) when selection for calves is negatively frequency dependent, which results in a lower mean abundance of prey. More importantly, predation is a stronger destabilizing force when selection for calves is negatively frequency dependent. That stronger destabilizing force is indicated by greater variability in the abundance of prey and predators, prey populations being less resilient and a steeper negative slope of the relationship between predation rate and prey population growth rate. As such, our simulation analyses suggest that some of the observed patterns of negative-frequency dependent selection may have important consequences for predator–prey dynamics.

Vertebrate scavenging dynamics differ between carnivore and herbivore carcasses in the northern boreal forest. Peers MJ, Konkolics SM, Majchrzak YN, Menzies AK, Studd EK, Boonstra R, Boutin S, Lamb CT. Ecosphere. 2021 Aug

ABSTRACT

Vertebrate scavenging can impact food web dynamics, but our understanding of this process stems predominantly from monitoring herbivore carrion and extrapolating results across carcass types. Recent evidence suggests carnivores may avoid intraguild scavenging to reduce parasite transmission. If this behavior is widespread across diverse ecosystems, estimation of nutrient cycling and community scavenging rates are likely biased to a currently unknown degree. We examined whether the time to initiate scavenging, carcass persistence, or the richness of species scavenging in the boreal forest of Yukon, Canada, differed between carnivore and herbivore carcasses. Vertebrates took longer to initiate scavenging on carnivore carcasses (3.2 d) relative to herbivore carcasses (1.1 d), and carnivore carcasses persisted on the landscape for over a month longer (48.4 d and 5.5 d, respectively). The longer persistence times were due to the reduction in scavenging by carnivores such as Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Decreased scavenging was caused by changes in the propensity to consume carnivore carrion, as the number of species detecting a carcass within the first week did not differ between carnivore and herbivore carcasses. These results have ramifications for our understanding of nutrient cycling and food web dynamics in the boreal forest and provide further support that carcass type should be included in future studies.

Acoustic interaction between a pair of owls and a wolf. Marti-Domken B, Palacios V, Barber Meyer SM. Western North American Naturalist. 2021

ABSTRACT

During summer 2019, we recorded an apparent vocal interaction, lasting just under 4 min, between a pair of Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) and a gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park. To our knowledge, this is the first report of such an acoustic interaction in the scientific literature. The increased use of passive acoustic recorders, which record spontaneous vocalizations emitted by animals over long periods, will allow us to better document and study the importance of such interspecific interactions.

Multiple species‐specific molecular markers using nanofluidic array as a tool to detect prey DNA from carnivore scats. Di Bernardi C, Wikenros C, Hedmark E, Boitani L, Ciucci P, Sand H, Åkesson M. Ecology and Evolution. 2021 Aug

ABSTRACT

Large carnivore feeding ecology plays a crucial role for management and conserva-tion for predators and their prey. One of the keys to this kind of research is to identify the species composition in the predator diet, for example, prey determination from scat content. DNA- based methods applied to detect prey in predators’ scats are via-ble alternatives to traditional macroscopic approaches, showing an increased reliabil-ity and higher prey detection rate. Here, we developed a molecular method for prey species identification in wolf (Canis lupus) scats using multiple species-specific marker loci on the cytochrome b gene for 18 target species. The final panel consisted of 80 assays, with a minimum of four markers per target species, and that amplified specifically when using a high-throughput Nanofluidic array technology (Fluidigm Inc.). As a practical example, we applied the method to identify target prey species DNA in 80 wolf scats collected in Sweden. Depending on the number of amplifying markers required to obtain a positive species call in a scat, the success in determining at least one prey species from the scats ranged from 44% to 92%. Although we highlight the need to evaluate the optimal number of markers for sensitive target species detec-tion, the developed method is a fast and cost-efficient tool for prey identification in wolf scats and it also has the potential to be further developed and applied to other areas and large carnivores as well.

Behavioral effects of wolf presence on moose habitat selection: testing the landscape of fear hypothesis in an anthropogenic landscape. Sand H, Jamieson M, Andrén H, Wikenros C, Cromsigt J, Månsson J. Oecologia. 2021 Aug

ABSTRACT

Landscape of fear refers to the spatial variation in prey perception of predation risk, that under certain conditions, may lead to changes in their behavior. Behavioral responses of prey in relation to large carnivore predation risk have mainly been conducted in areas with low anthropogenic impact. We used long-term data on the distribution of moose in different habitat types in a system characterized by intensive management of all three trophic levels (silviculture, harvest of wolves and moose) to study effects on moose habitat selection resulting from the return of an apex predator, the wolf. We assumed that coursing predators such as wolves will cause an increased risk for moose in some habitat types and tested the hypotheses that moose will avoid open or young forest habitats following wolf establishment. After wolf recolonization, moose reduced their use of one type of open habitat (bog) but there was neither change in the use of the other open habitat type (clear-cut), nor in their use of young forest. Wolf establishment did not influence the use of habitat close to dense habitat when being in open habitats. Thus, the effect of wolves varied among habitat types and there was no unidirectional support for a behavioral effect of wolves’ establishment on moose habitat use. Human-driven habitat heterogeneity, concentration of moose forage to certain habitat types, and the effects of a multiple predator guild on moose may all contribute to the results found. We conclude that the landscape of fear is likely to have weak ecological effects on moose in this system.

Preliminary Estimate of Impact of Impact of Recommended DNR Quota on WI Wolf Population. Treves, A., 2021.

On the occurrence of the Himalayan Wolf Canis lupus, L. 1758 (Mammalia: Carnivora: Canidae) in the Gaurishankar Conservation Area, Nepal; its existence confirmed through sign and visual evidence in Rolwaling Valley. Pandey BP, Thami SM, Shrestha R, Chalise MK. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 2021 Jul

ABSTRACT

The Himalayan Wolf Canis lupus L., a top predator of the Third Pole, is proposed to be of a distinct wolf lineage (C. himalayensis) relative to the Holarctic Grey Wolf as described by mtDNA analyses. A biodiversity survey organized by the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project (GCAP) has captured images of wolves in three different regions, and the study team has observed wolf scats in five additional regions above the tree line in Rolwaling Valley. Further, interviews with local herders provided evidence of wolf depredation of livestock in the area. The Rolwaling Valley in the Gaurishankar Conservation Area was the study area which was divided into 12, 4 x 4 km (16 km2) grid cells, each supplied with one camera trap operated continuously from June to November 2019 (only 6 out of 12 cameras functioned for the duration of our study). Wolf detections were recorded by camera traps from Yalung Pass (4,956 m), Tsho-Rolpa glacial Lake (4,536 m) and the Dudhkunda ridgeline (5,091 m). The photo capture rate index (PCRI) for wolves was 0.71. Our study reports the first photographic evidence of the Himalayan Wolf in the Rolwaling Valley.

Unveiling the Fecal Microbiota in Two Captive Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) Populations Receiving Different Type of Diets. Barraza-Guerrero SI, Meza-Herrera CA, Ávila-Rodríguez V, Vaca-Paniagua F, Díaz-Velásquez CE, Pacheco-Torres I, Valdez-Solana MA, Siller-Rodríguez QK, Valenzuela-Núñez LM, Herrera-Salazar JC. Biology. 2021 Jul

ABSTRACT

The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) was once distributed in southern United States and northern Mexico. It is an endangered subspecies detached from the gray wolf, and likely exemplifies one of the original migration waves of C. lupus into the new world. This is a canine whose individuals survive in specialized facilities, zoos, and museums as part of captive-breeding programs. In order to contribute to the improvement of the management of this species and favor its long-term conservation in Mexico, we aimed to evaluate the diversity and abundance of the fecal bacterial microbiota in two populations exposed to different types of diet: (1) Michilia (23° N, 104° W); kibble daily and raw meat sporadically, and (2) Ocotal (19° N, 99° W); raw meat daily and live animals periodically. Next generation sequencing (V3-V4 16S rRNA gene) by Illumina was implemented. The operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in Michilia resulted in 9 phyla, 19 classes, 34 orders, 61 families, 204 genera, and 316 species, while in Ocotal there were 12 phyla, 24 classes, 37 orders, 69 families, 232 genera, and 379 species. Higher estimated Chao1 richness, Shannon diversity, and core microbiota were observed in Ocotal. Differences (p < 0.05) between populations occurred according to the Bray–Curtis beta diversity index. In the Michilia, dominance of bacteria that degrade carbohydrates (Firmicutes, Lachnospiraceae, Blautia, Clostrodium, Eisenbergiella, Romboutsia, and Ruminococcus) was observed; they are abundant in kibble diets. In contrast, the Ocotal microbiota was dominated by protein-degrading bacteria (Fusobacteria, Fusobacteriaceae, and Fusobacteria), indicating a possible positive relation with a raw meat diet. The information generated in this study is fundamental to support the implementation of better management plans in the two populations considered here, as well as in different facilities of southern United States and Mexico, where this subspecies is kept in captivity for conservation purposes.

Social environment and genetics underlie body site‐specific microbiomes of Yellowstone National Park gray wolves (Canis lupus). DeCandia AL, Cassidy KA, Stahler DR, Stahler EA, VonHoldt BM.Ecology and evolution. 2021 Jul

ABSTRACT

The host-associated microbiome is an important player in the ecology and evolution of species. Despite growing interest in the medical, veterinary, and conservation communities, there remain numerous questions about the primary factors underlying microbiota, particularly in wildlife. We bridged this knowledge gap by leveraging microbial, genetic, and observational data collected in a wild, pedigreed population of gray wolves (Canis lupus) inhabiting Yellowstone National Park. We characterized body site-specific microbes across six haired and mucosal body sites (and two fecal samples) using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. At the phylum level, we found that the microbiome of gray wolves primarily consists of Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, and Proteobacteria, consistent with previous studies within Mammalia and Canidae. At the genus level, we documented body site-specific microbiota with functions relevant to microenvironment and local physiological processes. We additionally employed observational and RAD sequencing data to examine genetic, demographic, and environmental correlates of skin and gut microbiota. We surveyed individuals across several levels of pedigree relationships, generations, and social groups, and found that social environment (i.e., pack) and genetic relatedness were two primary factors associated with microbial community composition to differing degrees between body sites. We additionally reported body condition and coat color as secondary factors underlying gut and skin microbiomes, respectively. We concluded that gray wolf microbiota resemble similar host species, differ between body sites, and are shaped by numerous endogenous and exogenous factors. These results provide baseline information for this long-term study population and yield important insights into the evolutionary history, ecology, and conservation of wild wolves and their associated microbes.

Human-Wolf (Canis lupus) Conflict in Upper Mustang of Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Pahari, S., Joshi, R. and Poudel, B.(2021). Grassroots Journal of Natural Resources. 2021 Jun

ABSTRACT

Human-wolf conflict has been one of the major issues in the Himalayan region of Nepal. It has obstructed the sustainable management initiatives in Annapurna Conservation Area. The aim of this study is to assess the status of human-wolf conflict, conservation threats to wolf and people’s perception towards this endangered carnivore. Questionnaire survey was conducted in different wards of three rural municipalities (RM) of the Upper Mustang. Similarly, key informants were interviewed followed by several discussions with stakeholders. The results indicate “wolf’s preference for domestic livestock” as the most probable cause of depredation with IRR value 0.91. The number of victims was found highest in Lomanthang RM (ward number 2) where 90% of respondents reported to be victims. However, in terms of the loss in monetary value, Lo-Ghekar Damodarkunda RM (ward number 4) ranked highest with the loss of NRs. 55,880 (≈$479.1)/HH/year and Barhagaun Muktichhetra (ward number 3) is the least affected. Similarly, by number, mountain goat casualties (172) were highest in last 5 years, but the maximum economic loss was due to the horse depredation (NRs. 68,00,000 or $57,347.20) among sampled households. The results indicate that the negative perception of local people is the major threat to wolf. Active participation of local people in conservation and awareness program can play a vital role to reduce and mitigate the human-wolf conflict at community level.

The First Record of Echinococcus ortleppi (G5) Tapeworms in Grey Wolf (Canis lupus). Karamon J, Samorek-Pieróg M, Sroka J, Bilska-Zając E, Dąbrowska J, Kochanowski M, Różycki M, Zdybel J, Cencek T. Pathogens. 2021 Jul

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study is to confirm the presence and molecular identification of Echinococcus tapeworms in wolves from south-eastern Poland. An investigation was carried out on the intestines of 13 wolves from south-eastern Poland. The small intestines were divided into three equal segments. Each segment was separately examined using the sedimentation and counting technique (SCT). The detected Echinococcus tapeworms were isolated and identified by PCRs and sequencing (nad1 and cox1 genes). Additionally, DNA isolated from the feces of wolves positive for Echinococcus tapeworms was examined with two diagnostic PCRs. The intestines of one wolf were positive for E. granulosus s.l. when assessed by SCT; the intestine was from a six-year-old male wolf killed in a communication accident. We detected 61 adult tapeworms: 42 in the anterior, 14 in the middle, and 5 in the posterior parts of the small intestine. The PCRs conducted for cox1 and nad1 produced specific products. A sequence comparison with the GenBank database showed similarity to the deposited E. ortleppi (G5) sequences. An analysis of the available phylogenetic sequences showed very little variation within the species of E. ortleppi (G5), and identity ranged from 99.10% to 100.00% in the case of cox1 and from 99.04% to 100.00% in the case of nad1. One of the two diagnostic PCRs used and performed on the feces of Echinococcus-positive animals showed product specific for E. granulosus. This study showed the presence of adult E. ortleppi tapeworms in wolves for the first time