Apollonio, Marco and Mattioli, Luca and Scandura, Massimo and Mauri, Lorenza and Gazzola, Andrea and Avanzinelli, Elisa (2004) Wolves in the Casentinesi forests: insights for wolf conservation in Italy from a protected area with a rich wild prey community. Biological Conservation, Vol. 120 (2), p. 249-260. ISSN 0006-3207. Article.
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The Casentinesi Forests, in the northern Apennines, harbour a rich community of wild ungulates, with the wolf representing the largest predator in the area. Between 1993 and 2000, wolf pack distribution in the area was monitored and estimates of pack size were obtained by wolf-howling surveys, snow-tracking, and occasional observations. Three to five packs were detected yearly, with sizes averaging 4.2 ± 0.9 wolves (maximum 7). The overall density in the area was 4.7 wolves per 100 km2; with an average distance between adjacent packs of 11.1 km. The high wolf density in the Casentinesi Forests is mostly related to abundance and size of wild prey. In this, like in other areas at low latitudes, wolf density depends mainly on the number of packs, as pack size is rather small and recruitment limited by early dispersal and high mortality. Three homesites used in several years by resident packs were discovered. Homesite fidelity and pack reproductive success were higher in fully protected rather than harvested areas. Establishing a network of protected areas with high ungulate diversity and abundance is proposed as the main factor for allowing a full recovery of the wolf population in Italy.
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