Quantifying The Predator-Prey Relationship: Lessons Learned From A Multiple-Prey, Wolf-Hybrid Zone In Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Keywords
GPS
wolves
prey selection
algonquin provincial park
eastern wolf
predation
ontario, canada
Years
Authors
Volumes
Volume 17, No. 1-4

Quantifying the predator-prey relationship: lessons 
Learned from a multiple-prey, wolf-hybrid zone in 
Algonquin park, ontario, Canada
Karen Loveless,* Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Livingston, Montana 59047
Linda Rutledge, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Chris Sharpe, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Ken Mills, Wyoming Game and Fish, Pinedale, Wyoming
Brent Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
 
We studied winter kill rates and prey selection in an eastern wolf/moose/white-tailed 
deer system in Algonquin Park, Ontario Canada. Eastern wolves (Canis lycaon) are a distinct 
species, known to hybridize with both gray wolves and eastern coyotes, resulting in genetic 
variation within the study area. Deer in Algonquin are seasonally migratory, and accessibility 
of deer shifts significantly over winter. Some wolf packs migrate off territory to forage on 
deer, while others remain on territory, relying on moose. Our objectives were to 1) identify 
factors influencing variation in prey use, and 2) compare methodologies for quantifying prey 
use in a multiple prey system. We used fine scale GPS collar data to identify kill sites, and 
calculated relative use of moose and deer for each pack using several measures, including 
prey biomass/wolf/day, days/kill/pack and a newly developed method of time spent at kill 
sites from GPS data. We also conducted stable isotope analysis to compare with field collected 
prey-use data. Variation in prey use among wolf packs was most influenced by accessibility 
to deer, vulnerability of moose, and genetic admixture, and mediated by winter progression. 
Methodological comparisons showed that prey biomass/wolf/day tended to overestimate large 
prey items, while days/kill/pack overestimated the importance of small prey. Stable isotope 
results were inconsistent, revealing some possible weaknesses of this approach. We found 
wide variation in kill rates and relative prey use with winter progression, and spatial variation 
in age-specific predation associated with differences in hunter harvest pressure.