Field work effort to evaluate biological parameters of interest for decision-making on the wolf (Canis lupus)
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Observatorio del Estado de Conservación del Lobo (OECL), C/ Sauce 10, Villalbilla, 28810 Madrid, Spain
Laboratorio de Biogeografía Informática, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC-MCIU, C/ José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Unidad de Estadística, Servicio de Cálculo Científico, CSIC-MCIU, C/ Pinar 19, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC-MCIU, C/ José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Online publication date: 2022-02-21
Publication date: 2022-02-21
Corresponding author
Fernando Palacios   

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2022;33(1):65–72
The grey wolf (Canis lupus) was extirpated from the Central System (Iberian Peninsula) in 1976, but the species recolonized the area by 2006. We monitored this new population from 2010 to 2018 using non-invasive sampling techniques; we determined its biological parameters and we described the necessary field work to obtain the required information for evidence-based decision- making regarding the management of wolf populations. Data collection was primarily based on the detection of wolf marking signs along sampling routes (e.g. dirt roads, trails, paths) and the scats, in particular, were used to delineate pack territories. Camera trapping was generally used to confirm pack size and reproduction. We detected a maximum of 13 wolf packs distributed in the study area during the eight years of monitoring; the mean pack size was 3.5 wolves. Reproduction always occurred when the mean pack size was at least 4 individuals by the end of winter (52.7%). We also determined that the scat-marked territory of breeding packs (i.e., those with >4 individuals) was >60 km2 during the reproductive period. Overall, our results suggest that the low-cost monitoring methods commonly used to assess the status of wolf populations in Spain tend to overestimate both population size and reproductive success, suggesting the need for alternative methods.
We thank Angela Abad, technician at the Molecular Systematics Laboratory of the Spanish National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN) for her help in the field and for the analysis of scat mitochondrial DNA at the beginning of the study. We thank Andrés Alonso, Jesús Anero, Jorge Atance, Julio Dopacio, Clara Flores, José Antonio de la Fuente, Maximiliano Gutiérrez, Antonio Luengo, Gonzalo Monedero, Mayte Samblás, Javier Ramón, Iñaki Rodríguez, and Cristina Sanz, members of the Observatory of the Conservation Status of the Wolf (OECL), for their help in the field. We also thank Barbara Thomas and Melinda Modrell for the translation of the manuscript into English. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions which have greatly helped to improve the manuscript. Our appreciation extends to the Forestry Agents of the Community of Madrid for their help. Wolf study permits were provided by the governments of the Autonomous Communities of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha to one of the authors (FP).