Wolf, Canis lupus, Den Site Selection in the Rocky Mountains

Jon R. Trapp, Paul Beier, Curt Mack, David R. Parsons, Paul C. Paquet

Abstract


Because mortality of Wolves, Canis lupus, is highest during the first six months of life, den site selection may affect reproductive success of Wolf populations. We studied fine-scale denning habitat selection (within 100 m of den site) by comparing field-measured characteristics of 22 dens in Idaho, Montana, and Alberta with 22 paired random contrast locations within pack home ranges. In order of importance, Wolves denned in areas with greater canopy cover, hiding cover, herbaceous ground cover, and woody debris, and were closer to water than paired random sites. Thus Wolves may select den sites for physical protection and available water. We also studied coarse-scale denning habitat selection by comparing 35 Wolf dens with 35 paired contrast locations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming with respect to six remotely-sensed variables (elevation, slope, coniferous forest cover, solar radiation, distance to water, and distance to roads). Although these variables did not differ (univariate P > 0.10) between den and contrast locations, a Mahalanobis-distance model using four remotely-sensed variables (slope, elevation, coniferous forest cover, and solar radiation) suggested > 85% of dens would occur in potential denning habitat occupying < 12% of the Wolf recovery areas in the northern Rocky Mountains. This model may be useful for identifying likely den locations in areas not yet occupied by Wolves. Wolf core use areas, including den areas, showed higher intensity of use throughout the year when compared to the entire territory.

Keywords


Wolf; Canis lupus; den; modeling; reproduction; selection; Montana; Idaho; Wyoming; Alberta

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v122i1.543



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