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Wolf population dynamics

By:
, , and
Edited by:
L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani

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Abstract

A large, dark wolf poked his nose out of the pines in Yellowstone National Park as he thrust a broad foot deep into the snow and plowed ahead. Soon a second animal appeared, then another, and a fourth. A few minutes later, a pack of thirteen lanky wolves had filed out of the pines and onto the open hillside.

Wolf packs are the main social units of a wolf population. As numbers of wolves in packs change, so too, then, does the wolf population (Rausch 1967). Trying to understand the factors and mechanisms that affect these changes is what the field of wolf population dynamics is all about. In this chapter, we will explore this topic using two main approaches: (1) meta-analysis using data from studies from many areas and periods, and (2) case histories of key long-term studies. The combination presents a good picture – a picture, however, that is still incomplete. We also caution that the data sets summarized in the analyses represent snapshots of wolf population dynamics under widely varying conditions and population trends, and that the figures used are usually composites or averages. Nevertheless, they should allow generalizations that provide important insight into wolf population dynamics.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Title:
Wolf population dynamics
Chapter:
6
ISBN:
9780226516974
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publisher location:
Chicago, IL
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description:
31 p.
Larger Work Type:
Book
Larger Work Subtype:
Monograph
Larger Work Title:
Wolves: Behavior, ecology, and conservation
First page:
161
Last page:
191