Temporal patterns of wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) foraging in the boreal forest

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Date: June 2018
From: Journal of Mammalogy(Vol. 99, Issue 3)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 315 words

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Abstract :

The foraging patterns and behaviors of predators can be discerned using GPS data. We used GPS data to investigate the temporal patterns of wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) foraging on large prey in northern Alberta. We built a predictive model of wolverine large-prey events (beaver predation or ungulate scavenging) based on the spatial and temporal patterns of wolverine GPS data at foraging sites we visited in the field in winter. We used this model to predict large-prey events throughout our entire wolverine GPS dataset in winter and summer. We then evaluated how variables related to prey availability, seasonality, competition, and territoriality affected wolverine encounter time, residency time, and return time at predicted large-prey events. We found that wolverines encountered large prey more often in the spring when there is increased beaver and ungulate availability. The total time that wolverines spent at large-prey events was greater in winter (3.11 days [95th percentile = 2.62-3.63 days]) than summer (2.08 days [95th percentile = 1.70-2.51 days]), potentially because prey availability is limited in winter or prey is easier to capture in summer. Wolverines partitioned the total time at events into multiple visits, reducing their residency time and increasing their return time with each revisit, indicating biomass decline through time. The time between visits in winter (10.12 days [95th percentile = 7.99-12.56 days]) and summer (8.39 days [95th percentile = 7.18-9.74 days]) suggests wolverines might be patrolling their home range. We also found that wolverine residency time decreased and return time increased when there were other large-prey events available. Moreover, wolverine residency time at events increased when other wolverines were in the area. Our results suggest that large-prey events are important to the energy balance of wolverines and that wolverine foraging behavior is dynamic in response to environmental change. Key words: Alberta, Alces alces, beaver, Castor canadensis, encounter time, Gulo gulo luscus, handling time, kill rate, moose, wolverine DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyy030

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A545566946