The Wolf Intelligencer

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

Vocabulary M-N

A-B / C-D / E-F / G-H / I-J / K-L / M-N / O-P / Q-R / S-T / U-V / W-X / Y-Z


A skin disease of mammals caused by parasitic mites and occasionally communicable to humans. It typically causes severe itching, hair loss, and the formation of scabs and lesions.

Cross PC, Almberg ES, Haase CG, Hudson PJ, Maloney SK, Metz MC, Munn AJ, Nugent P, Putzeys O, Stahler DR, Stewart AC. Energetic costs of mange in wolves estimated from infrared thermography. Ecology. 2016 Aug

Relating to theories which explain phenomena in purely physical or deterministic terms. “A mechanistic interpretation of nature” is an interpretation where nature is viewed as being determined by physical processes alone.

A predator at mid-level in a trophic system, which is preyed upon but also preys, typically, but not solely on smaller animals. Size and weight don’t determine or qualify a predator as a mesopredator. The status of a mesopredator depends on the apex predator and can change if a new species is introduced or extirpated from an ecosystem.

Berger KM, Conner MM. Recolonizing wolves and mesopredator suppression of coyotes: impacts on pronghorn population dynamics. Ecological Applications. 2008 Apr;

Meteoric Water
Water that comes from precipitation (snow and rain). This includes water from lakes, rivers, and icemelts, which all originate from precipitation.

Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan
A document that is prepared by the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team, that outlines the tasks and actions necessary to recover the subspecies within parts of its former range. The original plan was completed in 1982 and is currently being rewritten by the Recovery Team.

[GEOLOGY] of, relating to, or denoting the fourth epoch of the Tertiary period, between the Oligocene and Pliocene epochs. [as n.] (the Miocene) the Miocene epoch or the system of rocks deposited during it. The Miocene epoch lasted from 23.3 million to 5.2 million years ago. During this time, the Alps and Himalayas were being formed and there was diversification of the primates, including the first apes. A cooling period. mid 19th cent.: formed irregularly from Greek ‘less’ + kainos ‘new’.

(2010-04-01). The New Oxford American Dictionary (Kindle Locations 523875-523888). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

(Of a group of organisms) descended from a common evolutionary ancestor or ancestral group, especially one not shared with any other group.

Mortality Rates
Annual mortality rate is a percent or proportion of individuals in a population that die each year.

“A type of northern landscape characterized by a wet environment, vegetation and peat deposits. It encompasses various types of wetlands found in the boreal zone, including bogs, fens, swamps and mires. In Canada, muskeg and other peatlands cover up to 1.2 million km2, or 12 per cent of the country’s surface.
Muskeg has developed on such landforms, where permafrost is common and where water drainage from the top layer of soil is poor. Dead plants decompose slowly in the wet, cool and acidic environment, forming a moist layer of spongy earth called peat.
Among the most common muskeg plants are spongy Sphagnum mosses, which can hold up to 30 times their own weight in water.
Muskeg provides habitat for various species. Birds breed and nest in these wetlands, which are also home to many insects. Muskeg ecosystems support the threatened woodland caribou, beavers, muskrats, voles, bats and other mammals.
Plant species typical of muskeg environments include Sphagnum mosses, sedges, grasses, shrubs (e.g., leatherleaf and Labrador tea) and stunted coniferous trees as black spruce and tamarack.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Natal Pack
The basic wolf pack consists of a breeding pair and its offspring, which function in a tight-knit unit year-round. Wolves disperse from their natal pack.

Mech LD, Boitani L, editors. Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press; 2010 Oct

National Forest (United States)
National Forest – An area of public land designated and managed by the federal government (United States Forest Service) to assure an ongoing supply of natural resources. These include grazing land for livestock, minerals, timber and opportunities for recreational and scenic use.

National Park Service (United States)
An agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.

National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA)
Formerly known as Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4, the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) is now a vast ~23-million-acre area on Alaska’s North Slope. In 1923, mindful of the land’s conceivable petroleum value, President Harding set aside this area as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, administration of the reserve was transferred to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and renamed the NPR-A.

The US Department of the Interior | Bureau of Land Management

Those wolves that attempt to breed with  wolves in neighboring territories through biding, budding, or replacing established breeders.

Mech, L.D. and Boitani, L., 2003. Wolf social ecology.

Neighborhood Effect Theory (Forest Dynamics)
Neighborhood effects (e.g., serotinous seed rain, sprouting, shading, leaf-litter chemistry, and leaf-litter physical properties) operate at small spatial extents of the individual tree and its neighbors but play a central role in forest dynamics by contributing to patch formation at stand scales and dynamics of the entire landscape. Courtesy of Forest dynamics – NCBI

“By tracking birth, death and recruitment for each individual, spatially explicit, individual-based models have the potential to provide insights into the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine the structure and composition of plant communities. In effect, the individual-based models encapsulate an emerging theory of ‘‘neighborhood’’ dynamics, in which fine-scale spatial interactions regulate the demography of component tree species (Pacala et al.1996, Law and Dieckmann 2000). The spatial distribution of component species, in turn, regulates spatial variation in a whole host of community and ecosystem properties, with feedbacks on component species.”

Canham CD, Uriarte M. Analysis of neighborhood dynamics of forest ecosystems using likelihood methods and modeling. Ecological Applications. 2006 Feb

Negative -assortative mating
Mating in animals with an opposite or different phenotype characteristic such as color.

NMDGF (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish)
One of the state agencies that participates in the management of the Mexican gray wolf in the recovery area.

Nominate Subspecies
In zoological nomenclature, when a species is split into subspecies, the originally described population is retained as the “nominotypical subspecies” or “nominate subspecies”, which repeats the same name as the species.

International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Art.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
Courtesy of NASA
To determine the density of green on a patch of land, researchers must observe the distinct colors (wavelengths) of visible and near-infrared sunlight reflected by the plants.
The pigment in plant leaves, chlorophyll, strongly absorbs visible light (from 0.4 to 0.7 µm) for use in photosynthesis. The cell structure of the leaves, on the other hand, strongly reflects near-infrared light (from 0.7 to 1.1 µm). The more leaves a plant has, the more these wavelengths of light are affected, respectively.
The NOAA AVHRR instrument has five detectors, two of which are sensitive to the wavelengths of light ranging from 0.55–0.70 and 0.73–1.0 micrometers. With AVHRR’s detectors, researchers can measure the intensity of light coming off the Earth in visible and near-infrared wavelengths and quantify the photosynthetic capacity of the vegetation in a given pixel (an AVHRR pixel is 1 square km) of land surface.
Nearly all satellite Vegetation Indices employ this difference formula to quantify the density of plant growth on the Earth — near-infrared radiation minus visible radiation divided by near-infrared radiation plus visible radiation. The result of this formula is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Written mathematically, the formula is:
Calculations of NDVI for a given pixel always result in a number that ranges from minus one (-1) to plus one (+1); however, no green leaves gives a value close to zero. A zero means no vegetation and close to +1 (0.8 – 0.9) indicates the highest possible density of green leaves.

North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
A weather phenomenon in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level (SLP) between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. Through fluctuations in the strength of the Icelandic low and the Azores high, it controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and location of storm tracks across the North Atlantic. It is part of the Arctic oscillation, and varies over time with no particular periodicity.

Numerical Response
A change in predator density as a function of  change in prey density.

“The first pathway is a numerical response, where early seral vegetation increases moose and deer (Odocoileus sp.) populations, subsequently increasing grey wolf populations. The second pathway involves a functional response, where linear features increase caribou mortality by increasing the movement rate of wolves (McKenzie et al 2012) and reducing the spatial separation between travelling wolves and caribou (DeMars and Boutin 2017).”

Keim, B.J.L., DeWitt, P.D., Wilson, S.F., Fitzpatrick, J.J., Jenni, N.S. and Lele, S.R., 2019. Designing and Monitoring the Efficacy of Functional Restoration of Linear Features for Boreal Woodland Caribou: 41.


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