Science-based solutions to foster connectivity of wolf populations are limited by available data
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cE3c ‐ Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa,1749-016, Lisboa, Portugal
CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Biology, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193, Aveiro, Portugal
ForestWISE - Collaborative Laboratory for Integrated Forest & Fire Management, Quinta de Prados, 5001-801, Vila Real, Portugal
Online publication date: 2022-01-22
Publication date: 2022-01-22
Corresponding author
Sofia Lino   

cE3c ‐ Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa,1749-016, Lisboa, Portugal
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2022;33(1):5-16
European wolf populations are currently exposed to distinct sources of anthropogenic disturbance and mortality that can cause dispersal limitations and lead to isolation. The identification of factors that act as complete or partial barriers to movement, dispersal, or gene flow contribute to foster connectivity between populations. We reviewed the existing literature (N = 32) on wolf population barriers to 1) identify main barriers to connectivity; 2) outline different methodologies; and 3) highlight knowledge gaps. Based on the reviewed studies that empirically tested barrier occurrence (N=14), we compiled data on wolf population structure, anthropogenic disturbance, land cover, ecological factors, geographical features, and prey availability, and tested them as predictors to explain barrier occurrence at continental scale. We report few studies directly addressing this subject for one of the most emblematic and thoroughly studied species, inhabiting one of the most modified landscapes in the world. Albeit our analysis suggested that anthropogenic features are the main drivers of barrier occurrence, we highlight that the absence of standardised data limits our understanding of this subject. Long-term, intensive monitoring programs, explicit hypothesis-driven research using empirical methodologies, and the integration of information on databases for collaborative science are needed to increase the conservation and management relevance of future scientific outcomes on this topic.
This research was funded by FCT/MCTES (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia), through national funds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020, by supporting CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020+UIDB/50017/2020+LA/P/0094/2020) and cE3c (UIDB/00329/2020) and CHANGE (LA/P/0121/2020). S.L was supported by a Ph.D. grant [SFRH/BD/147252/2019] from FCT; J.C was supported by a research contract [CEECIND/01428/2018] from FCT. E.F. is funded by national funds (OE), through FCT in the scope of framework contract foreseen in the numbers 4, 5, and 6 of the article 23, of the Decree-Law 57/2016, of August 29, changed by Law 57/2017, of July 19.
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