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Fairbanks, AK, United States

McKelvey K.S.,Rocky Research | Lofroth E.C.,Environment Canada | Copeland J.P.,Rocky Research | Aubry K.B.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Magoun A.J.,Wildlife Research and Management
Population Ecology

The recent paper by Brodie and Post ("Nonlinear responses of wolverine populations to declining winter snowpack", Popul Ecol 52:279-287, 2010) reports conclusions that are unsupportable, in our opinion, due to both mis-interpretations of current knowledge regarding the wolverine's (Gulo gulo) association with snow, and the uncritical use of harvest data to index wolverine populations. The authors argue that, because the wolverine is a snow-dependent species, average annual provincial snowfall, based on weather station data, can be expected to correlate strongly and positively with wolverine population numbers, which in turn can be accurately indexed by trapper harvests. Thus, correlations between declines in wolverine harvests and declining average snowpack are interpreted to reflect a climate-driven decrease in wolverine populations. This conclusion overstates the nature of the wolverine's association with snow, and makes unsupportable assumptions about the reliability of harvest data as a proxy for population size. © 2010 The Author(s). Source

Bowman J.,Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources | Ray J.C.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Magoun A.J.,Wildlife Research and Management | Johnson D.S.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Neil Dawson F.,Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Canadian Journal of Zoology

We evaluated hypotheses concerning the distributions of large mammals in a 60 000 km2 study area that encompassed the contact zone between Ontario's roadless north and the postlogging southern landscape. We estimated occurrence probability in 575 sample units for woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou (Gmelin, 1788)), wolverine (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)), gray wolf (Canis lupus L., 1758), moose (Alces alces (L., 1758)), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman, 1780)). We used ordinations and spatial regressions to assess the contributions of parameters to species occurrence. Roads and cutovers were most abundant in the south, leading to an increased prevalence of deciduous forest. Mature coniferous forest, however, occurred most commonly in the north. Occurrence probabilities for moose and deer were greatest in the south, in close association with deciduous trees. Wolf occurrence was also greatest in the south, positively related to both deciduous forest and road density. Caribou occurrence, however, was positively related to mature coniferous forest and negatively related to both wolf occurrence and roads. Wolverine occurrence was negatively related to deciduous forest. Our surveys demonstrated distinct mammal communities in the northern and southern halves of our study area, a separation that appeared to be mediated by deciduous forest and roads. Source

Copeland J.P.,Rocky Research | McKelvey K.S.,Rocky Research | Aubry K.B.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Landa A.,Norwegian Institute for Nature Research | And 13 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Zoology

We propose a fundamental geographic distribution for the wolverine (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)) based on the hypothesis that the occurrence of wolverines is constrained by their obligate association with persistent spring snow cover for successful reproductive denning and by an upper limit of thermoneutrality. To investigate this hypothesis, we developed a composite of MODIS classified satellite images representing persistent snow cover from 24 April to 15 May, which encompasses the end of the wolverine's reproductive denning period. To investigate the wolverine's spatial relationship with average maximum August temperatures, we used interpolated temperature maps. We then compared and correlated these climatic factors with spatially referenced data on wolverine den sites and telemetry locations from North America and Fennoscandia, and our contemporary understanding of the wolverine's circumboreal range. All 562 reproductive dens from Fennoscandia and North America occurred at sites with persistent spring snow cover. Ninety-five percent of summer and 86% of winter telemetry locations were concordant with spring snow coverage. Average maximum August temperature was a less effective predictor of wolverine presence, although wolverines preferred summer temperatures lower than those available. Reductions in spring snow cover associated with climatic warming will likely reduce the extent of wolverine habitat, with an associated loss of connectivity. Source

Inman R.M.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Inman R.M.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Magoun A.J.,Wildlife Research and Management | Persson J.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy

Wolverines are demographically vulnerable and susceptible to impacts from climate change. Their distribution is correlated with persistent spring snow cover, but food-based explanations for this relationship have not been explored. We synthesize information on the timing of both wolverine reproductive events and food availability to improve our understanding of the behaviors, habitat features, and foods that influence reproductive success. Wolverine births are constrained to a brief period of the year and occur at an earlier date than other nonhibernating, northern carnivores. Our examination suggests that this timing is adaptive because it allows wolverines to take advantage of a cold, low-productivity niche by appending the scarce resources available during winter to the brief period of summer abundance. The wolverine's bet-hedging reproductive strategy appears to require success in 2 stages. First, they must fuel lactation (FebruaryApril) with caches amassed over winter or acquisition of a sudden food bonanza (e.g., winter-killed ungulates); otherwise, early litter loss occurs. Next, they must fuel the majority of postweaning growth during the brief but relatively reliable summer period of resource abundance. The 1st stage is likely dependent on scavenged ungulate resources over most of the wolverine's range, whereas the 2nd stage varies by region. In some regions the 2nd stage may continue to be focused on scavenging ungulate remains that have been provided by larger predators. In other regions the 2nd stage may be focused on predation by wolverines on small prey or neonatal ungulates. During all seasons and regions, caching in cold, structured microsites to inhibit competition with insects, bacteria, and other scavengers is likely a critical behavioral adaptation because total food resources are relatively limited within the wolverine's niche. Habitat features that facilitate caching, e.g., boulders and low ambient temperatures, are likely important and could be related to the limits of distribution. This "refrigeration-zone" hypothesis represents a food-based explanation for the correlation between wolverine distribution and persistent spring snow cover. Understanding regional differences in foods that fuel reproduction and underlying causes to the limits of distribution could be important for maintaining wolverine populations in the future. © 2012 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

Short J.,Wildlife Research and Management | Short J.,Murdoch University
Wildlife Research

Context Reintroduction of endangered species potentially places them back in contact with putative factors of historical decline, inadvertently providing the opportunity to evaluate their impact. Aims To monitor the long-term progress of a population of western barred bandicoot reintroduced to mainland Australia and to assess factors involved in its eventual local extinction. Methods Bandicoots were reintroduced from offshore Dorre Island to the nearby mainland peninsula of Heirisson Prong in 1995. The narrow neck of the peninsula was fenced to exclude foxes and feral cats from a 1200ha area, but the area was subject to periodic incursions. There was parallel management of a confined but unsupported population in an in situ 17-ha predator refuge. Bandicoots were assessed for abundance, body condition and reproduction two to four times annually between 1995 and 2010. In addition, perceived threatening processes (drought, disease and the abundance of cats, foxes and rabbits) were monitored. Key results Bandicoots became well established at the site, spreading to all available habitat. Numbers fluctuated strongly, peaking at ~250 in 1999 and then declining to apparent local extinction (with subsequent re-establishment from the refuge), and at ~470 animals in 2006, followed again by extinction. Conclusions Predation by feral cats was implicated as the primary cause of both free-range extinctions and the eventual elimination of all bandicoots from the predator refuge. Other contributing factors in one or more of the declines were a reduction in reproduction and recruitment in bandicoots during a one-in-100-year drought, the impact of overabundant European rabbits on vegetation used by bandicoots for nesting shelter and brief fox incursions at key times. Implications Existing methods of control of feral cats are rendered ineffective in the presence of abundant and diverse native fauna and abundant exotic species (particularly European rabbits). In addition, episodic drought in arid Australia intensifies the impact of predation by restricting reproduction of prey species. These factors hamper the attempts of conservation managers to re-establish vulnerable species at sites other than those with the infrastructure and/or management intensity to largely exclude exotic predators (and preferably European rabbits) over the long-term. © The authors 2016. Source

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