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Wasagaming, Canada

Sinkins P.A.,Riding Mountain National Park | Otfinowski R.,Western and Northern Service Center | Otfinowski R.,McGill University
Plant Ecology | Year: 2012

Despite the detrimental impacts of invasive plants on native biodiversity, ecosystem function, and management cost, few studies have focused on the long-term persistence of invaders. Here, we use a unique, long-term dataset to examine the recovery of northern rough fescue prairie communities, 41 years after the removal of livestock from Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada. Our 1973 data suggest that summer grazing of plains' rough fescue (Festuca hallii (Vasey) Piper) leads to its displacement from the plant community and increased dominance by exotic invaders. After 41 years of recovery time, historic grazing intensity remained an excellent predictor of community structure and composition. Areas classified as heavily grazed in 1973 remained characterized by exotic grasses and had significantly lower richness and diversity. While some exotic invaders persisted despite 41 years of community recovery, others were ephemeral. For example, both Poa pratensis (L.) and Bromus inermis (Leyss.) persisted, increasing in abundance across all classes of grazing intensity, suggesting that their control requires active restoration of the invaded areas. In contrast, passive restoration may be possible for a subset of ephemeral exotic species such as Taraxacum officinale, which had virtually disappeared from invaded prairies by 2010. Our long-term data provide a rare perspective into the long-term dynamics of plant invasions. Based on our findings, conservation managers will need to consider the dichotomy between persistent and ephemeral invaders and their impact on the recovery of northern prairie communities as they focus their restoration efforts against the mounting impacts of exotic plant invaders. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Stronen A.V.,University of Montreal | Stronen A.V.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Tessier N.,University of Montreal | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | And 5 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2012

Contemporary evolution through human-induced hybridization occurs throughout the taxonomic range. Formerly allopatric species appear especially susceptible to hybridization. Consequently, hybridization is expected to be more common in regions with recent sympatry owing to human activity than in areas of historical range overlap. Coyotes (Canis latrans) and gray wolves (C. lupus) are historically sympatric in western North America. Following European settlement gray wolf range contracted, whereas coyote range expanded to include eastern North America. Furthermore, wolves with New World (NW) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes now extend from Manitoba to Québec in Canada and hybridize with gray wolves and coyotes. Using mtDNA and 12 microsatellite markers, we evaluated levels of wolf-coyote hybridization in regions where coyotes were present (the Canadian Prairies, n = 109 samples) and absent historically (Québec, n = 154). Wolves with NW mtDNA extended from central Saskatchewan (51°N, 69°W) to northeastern Québec (54°N, 108°W). On the Prairies, 6.3% of coyotes and 9.2% of wolves had genetic profiles suggesting wolf-coyote hybridization. In contrast, 12.6% of coyotes and 37.4% of wolves in Québec had profiles indicating hybrid origin. Wolves with NW and Old World (C. lupus) mtDNA appear to form integrated populations in both regions. Our results suggest that hybridization is more frequent in historically allopatric populations. Range shifts, now expected across taxa following climate change and other human influence on the environment, might therefore promote contemporary evolution by hybridization. © 2012 The Authors. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Stronen A.V.,University of New Brunswick | Sallows T.,Riding Mountain National Park | Forbes G.J.,University of New Brunswick | Wagner B.,University of Saskatchewan | Paquet P.C.,University of Calgary
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2011

We examined wolf (Canis lupus) blood and fecal samples from the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) region of Manitoba, Canada. In 601 fecal samples collected during two study periods in RMNP and the Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest (DMPPF) we found gastrointestinal helminth eggs from Alaria sp. (15.5%), Capillaria sp. (1.0%), taeniid tapeworms (30.8%), Toxascaris sp. (1.7%), Toxocara sp. (0.2%), Trichuris sp. (2.2%), and Moniezia sp. (0.5%). In addition, we found Demodex sp. (0.2%) and the protozoal cysts/oocysts of Sarcocystis sp. (37.3%), Cryptosporidium sp. (1.2%), coccidia (Isospora sp. or Eimeria sp.) (1.7%), and Giardia sp. (29.5%). No fecal shedding of canine parvovirus (CPV, n5387) was detected. All 18 blood samples collected in RMNP showed CPV exposure and eight of 18 blood samples indicated canine distemper virus (CDV) exposure. One wolf died from CDV. Our results are consistent with previous findings on pathogens affecting wolves and with high Giardia sp. prevalence in wolves inhabiting agricultural regions. © Wildlife Disease Association 2011. Source

Stronen A.V.,University of New Brunswick | Stronen A.V.,University of Montreal | Forbes G.J.,University of New Brunswick | Sallows T.,Riding Mountain National Park | And 3 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2010

Two types of wolves, gray (Canis lupus L., 1758) and eastern (Canis lupus lycaon Schreber, 1775 or Canis lycaon) or Great Lakes wolves, representing Old World (OW) and New World (NW) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes, have been reported in eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region. Both haplotypes were found in Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest, Manitoba. Only OW haplotypes have been reported from the isolated Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP), 30 km to the south. Wolves with NW haplotypes hybridize with C. lupus and coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) and could mediate gene flow between canids. We examined available data on wolf body mass, skull morphology, and mtDNA from the RMNP region, as well as mtDNA from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, to assess the occurrence of NW haplotypes in wolves and possible canid hybridization. Mean body mass of female (n = 54) and male (n = 42) RMNP wolves during 1985-1987 was higher than that of females (n = 12) and males (n = 8) during 1999-2004. Thirteen skull measures from 29 wolf skulls did not suggest significant differences between RMNP and Duck Mountain wolves. Nineteen of 20 RMNP samples had OW haplotypes, whereas one clustered together with NW haplotypes. Source

Stronen A.V.,University of New Brunswick | Stronen A.V.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Forbes G.J.,University of New Brunswick | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | And 3 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2012

The effects of human-caused fragmentation require further study in landscapes where physical dispersal barriers and natural ecological transitions can be discounted as causes for population genetic structure. We predict that fragmentation can reduce dispersal across such barrier-free landscapes because dispersal also is limited by a perception of risk. Considerable fragmentation has occurred in the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) region in Manitoba, Canada, during the past 60 years. We examine data from 13 autosomal microsatellites to determine whether fragmentation is correlated with genetic population structure in wolves (Canis lupus). Moderate and significant differentiation between RMNP and a genetic cluster identified 30 km farther north (F ST = 0.053, 95% CI [0.031-0.073]) is consistent with predicted effects of fragmentation. The RMNP population cluster represents at least seven wolf packs followed weekly by radio tracking during 2003-2006. Distinct mtDNA haplotypes have been identified in the Park and no successful wolf dispersal from RMNP has been documented in several multi-year tracking studies since 1974. Tracking data also indicate that some wolves might be reluctant to leave RMNP. Although the influence of behaviour and local adaptation require investigation, human-caused fragmentation appears to have caused cryptic genetic structure on fine spatiotemporal scales in a vagile species that is: (1) not influenced by physical movement barriers or historical ecological discontinuities in our study area, and; (2) able to live relatively close to humans. The Great Plains is now an intensely human-managed landscape. Detection of cryptic genetic structure could therefore function as an important indicator in conservation management. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

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