May 27, 2023

What Influences Wolf Expansion

*Editor’s Note* – This information should come as no surprise. Many of us have for several years been saying that forcing wolves to expand in man-settled environments is bad for people and animals.


Interspecific competition can influence the distribution and abundance of species and the structure of ecological communities and entire ecosystems. Interactions between apex predators can have cascading effects through the entire natural community, which supports broadening the scope of conservation from single species to a much wider ecosystem perspective. However, competition between wild large carnivores can hardly be measured experimentally. In this study, we analyzed the expansion of the Scandinavian wolf (Canis lupus) population during its recovery from the early 1990s. We took into account wolf-, habitat-, human- and brown bear (Ursus arctos)-related factors, because wolf expansion occurred within an area partially sympatric with bears. Wolf pair establishment was positively related to previous wolf presence and was negatively related to road density, distance to other wolf territories, and bear density. These findings suggest that both human-related habitat modification and interspecific competition have been influential factors modulating the expansion of the wolf population. Interactions between large carnivores have the potential to affect overall biodiversity. Therefore, conservation-oriented management of such species should consider interspecific interactions, rather than focusing only on target populations of single species. Long-term monitoring data across large areas should also help quantify and predict the influence of biotic interactions on species assemblages and distributions elsewhere. This is important because interactive processes can be essential in the regulation, stability, and resilience of ecological communities.<<<Read More>>>