Impacts of recolonizing gray wolves (Canis lupus) on survival and mortality in two sympatric ungulates

TitleImpacts of recolonizing gray wolves (Canis lupus) on survival and mortality in two sympatric ungulates
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDellinger J.A., Shores C.R., Marsh M., Heithaus M.R., Ripple W.J., Wirsing A.J.
JournalCan. J. Zool.

There is growing recognition that humans may mediate the strength and nature of the ecological effects of large predators. We took advantage of ongoing gray wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) recolonization in Washington, USA, to contrast adult survival rates and sources of mortality for mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus (Rafinesque, 1817)) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) in areas with and without wolf packs in a managed landscape dominated by multiple human uses. We tested the hypothesis that the addition of wolves to the existing predator guild would augment predator-induced mortality rates for both ungulates. Source of mortality data from adult mule deer and white-tailed deer, respectively, revealed that wolf-related mortality was low compared with that inflicted by other predators or humans. Predator-caused mortality was largely confined to winter. There was little effect of wolf presence on adult deer mortality rates, and there was no difference in mortality between the two deer species relative to wolf-free or wolf-occupied sites. Although this study occurred early in wolf recovery in Washington, our results differ from those demonstrated for gray wolves in protected areas. Thus, we encourage further investigation of effects of direct predation by recolonizing large carnivores on prey in human-dominated landscapes.

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