The endangered red wolf (Canis rufus): spatial ecology of a critically imperiled species in a human-dominated landscape
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University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The purpose of this dissertation research was to analyze the ecology of thereintroduced red wolf (Canis rufus) population on the Albemarle Peninsula, NC and determine variables such as intraspecific interactions among red wolves, and how the species has responded to the human-dominated landscape and presence of interspecifics. Specifically, this dissertation research examined interactions between male red wolves utilizing a shared area, quantified red wolf natal dispersal characteristics, and modeled preferred red wolf habitat and its overlap with coyotes and red wolf/coyote hybrids. The results of this research found that adult male red wolf pack members associated less during the pup-rearing season than the non-breeding season, and associated more during nocturnal time periods than diurnal. During the pup-rearing season, the non-breeding male red wolf may have served as a helper at the den. These results documented the first time an unrelated male was accepted into a red wolf social group. Among natal dispersers, I found that yearling/adult red wolves dispersed shorter distances than pups during a period of population stability and decreased their dispersal distances during this period compared to when the population was increasing. Dispersals occurred nearly year round during the period of population stabilization and the peak in pup dispersal timing shifted from December to January. The peak in dispersal timing was later for pups than yearlings/adults during this period as well. Dispersal direction was not random and there was a preference for a westward dispersal direction, attributed to a preference for agricultural habitat. Natal habitat preference was evident in dispersers during the period of population growth, but this preference decreased during the period of population stability to only 35%. Red wolves, coyotes and red wolf/coyote hybrid animals prefer similar resource types based on land use/land cover type, but there was a clear separation between the groups based on road and human population density. Red wolves preferred significantly lower road and human population densities than hybrids or coyotes. Areas of high road and human population density may be the best indicators for targeting coyotes for management, and areas of agriculture with lower road and human population density are where the threat of hybridization between red wolves and coyotes may be greatest. These dissertation results provide baselines for red wolf ecology during periods of population growth and stability, and identify highly suitable red wolf habitat on the Albemarle Peninsula and where coyote management activities should be targeted for the protection of the red wolf species.
Infrastructure & Environmental Systems
Meentemeyer, RossDelmelle, EricSchneider, StanSteck, Todd
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2011.
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