Human activity is changing how much space wolves need to survive

by Patty Wellborn, University of British Columbia
January 27, 2022

Wolves are intelligent predators. Like people, they use trails, seismic lines and roads to efficiently move through landscapes.

But new research from UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science has found that wolves living in areas with high densities of human-created linear features need far less space to survive than in less disturbed areas.

One of the most predominant forms of habitat alteration, particularly in Western Canada, are linear features such as roads, seismic lines or pipelines, explains Melanie Dickie, a doctoral student who works with UBCO biologist Dr. Adam T. Ford.

“Smaller home ranges mean that, all else being equal, more wolves can fit into a given space. Our study is important for understanding how food and movement combine to influence home range size. Wolves can have profound impacts on their prey, and even plant communities. If humans are driving changes to those links in the food web, we need to understand how and then find a way to manage our part of the equation.”

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Read the Ecology paper: