Principal Investigators: Dr. Timothy Van Deelen, UW-Madison; Dr. David Mladenoff, UW – Madison
M.S. Student: Jennifer Stenglein
Project Title: Understanding patterns of gray wolf (Canis lupus) population growth and survival to inform long-term conservation of wolves in Wisconsin
Abstract: The purpose of this project is to understand the pattern of population growth and quantify survival of gray wolves in Wisconsin from 1979-2011 by identifying the factors that affect growth and survival. First, we use counts of radio-collared wolves and non-collared wolves dead from different causes from 1980-2011 to understand how the datasets differ from each other and how causes of death change by recovery period, season, and based on environmental variables of road density, agriculture, and amount of public land. Second, we are interested in developing a model of wolf survival that includes important life history features (i.e., age, sex, pack-membership, pack status) that influence survival and habitat quality, if habitat quality is found to be an important predictor of survival. Next, we are interested in exploring the potential that an Allee effect affected wolf population growth in early recovery and, if so, what mechanism drove the Allee effect. Finally, we aim to incorporate all of the information about growth and survival of Wisconsin’s wolves to understand how the addition of harvest will impact the population.