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Anchorage, AK, United States

Marquard-Petersen U.,Greenland Wolf Research Project
Polar Biology

Little research has been conducted on the spatial and temporal distribution of wolves in the High Arctic, and the processes that influence distributional patterns are not well understood. The present study addressed this information void in north and east Greenland by determining bi-seasonal distribution patterns and core areas based upon 303 sightings of wolves or their tracks during 1978-1998. The data suggested that this wolf population were predominantly distributed in semi-isolated patches in an insular and disjunct distribution. Evidence of wolf occurrence in some areas was so irregular that wolves should be considered absent in most years. Where such areas were clustered over several hundreds of kilometers, they collectively constituted areas of general wolf absence that could be considered gaps in distribution. There was no evidence that this population functioned in a mosaic of closely, interlocking pack territories similar to those reported in lower latitudes. The observed distributional pattern likely reflected the exceptionally impoverished and fragmented polar desert and semi-desert habitat that compelled wolves to adopt differing spatial distribution patterns relative to wolves in temperate areas. The broader scientific significance of this study is that, even in the most remote, vast, and uninhabited regions, it is possible to produce meaningful results on distributional patterns of rare, terrestrial carnivores that can serve as foundation for the next generation of testable hypotheses. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Marquard-Petersen U.,Greenland Wolf Research Project

The decline and extermination of an arctic wolf population in East Greenland between 1899 and 1939 were investigated through analysis of 40 years of archival data, which contained records of 252 sightings of wolves or their tracks. Prior to the start of exploitation by Europeans, this small, isolated wolf population probably consisted of about 38 wolves during an average year. Of 112 wolves sighted in early winter, 31.3% were lone wolves, 23.2% were in pairs, and the rest were in larger groups. Mean pack size was 3.3 wolves, and packs of more than four wolves were rare. The population was concentrated in the central part of its range, making it vulnerable to exploitation by Danish and Norwegian commercial hunters, who exterminated the population. Poison was the primary agent of destruction. There was no evidence that other proposed causes of the decline were influential. This study provided the first evidence of an arctic wolf population that was eradicated and highlights the vulnerability of small, isolated wolf populations to excessive harvest. Wolves in the High Arctic may be particularly vulnerable because of their exceptionally low densities, smaller pack sizes, lower pup production, infrequent reproduction, and insular or disjunct distributions. © The Arctic Institute of North America. Source

Marquard-Petersen U.,Greenland Wolf Research Project
Wildlife Biology

The high arctic wolf Canis lupus arctos was exterminated from eastern Greenland during the 1930s by commercial hunters and was considered absent for 40 years. In this study, I examined the recolonisation of east Greenland by wolves from north Greenland through an invasion that began in 1979. The invasion successfully led to the establishment of a new population, because a wolf pair arrived into the core historical wolf range followed by one or two wolves during the next four years. Weight of evidence suggested that the invaders arrived into east Greenland through unintentional, human-mediated jump dispersal. I present two cases of long-distance dispersals by lone wolves following military sled patrols in northern Greenland. Wolves had likely failed to establish a viable population in east Greenland for 40 years for the following reasons: 1) a low propagule pressure, 2) invasions were high risk, occurring through vast areas of the lowest, large ungulate prey biomass reported for wolves in North America, and 3) only singletons made it into eastern Greenland. © Wildlife Biology, NKV. Source

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