- Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Transboundary Monitoring of the Wolf Alpine Population over 21 Years and Seven Countries
Marucco, Francesca; Reinhardt, Ilka; Avanzinelli, Elisa; Zimmermann, Fridolin; Manz, Ralph; Potocnik, Hubert; Cerne, Rok; Rauer, Georg; Walter, Theresa; Knauer, Felix; Chapron, Guillaume; Duchamp, Christophe
Simple Summary We conducted a transboundary assessment of the Alpine wolf population over 21 years and across seven countries: Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Germany. This comprehensive study aimed to elucidate the new population expansion of wolves within the Alpine region after extinction in the area, with an increase in the number of wolf reproductive units (packs and pairs) over 21 years, from the first one in 1993-1994 up to 243 units in 2020-2021. The study highlighted the significance of cross-border cooperation in understanding the recolonization process of the wolf Alpine population. This transboundary evaluation not only contributes to scientific knowledge but also offers a foundation for informed decision making to favor the coexistence of wolves and human communities across the anthropized landscapes of the Alps.Abstract Wolves have large spatial requirements and their expansion in Europe is occurring over national boundaries, hence the need to develop monitoring programs at the population level. Wolves in the Alps are defined as a functional population and management unit. The range of this wolf Alpine population now covers seven countries: Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Germany, making the development of a joint and coordinated monitoring program particularly challenging. In the framework of the Wolf Alpine Group (WAG), researchers developed uniform criteria for the assessment and interpretation of field data collected in the frame of different national monitoring programs. This standardization allowed for data comparability across borders and the joint evaluation of distribution and consistency at the population level. We documented the increase in the number of wolf reproductive units (packs and pairs) over 21 years, from 1 in 1993-1994 up to 243 units in 2020-2021, and examined the pattern of expansion over the Alps. This long-term and large-scale approach is a successful example of transboundary monitoring of a large carnivore population that, despite administrative fragmentation, provides robust indexes of population size and distribution that are of relevance for wolf conservation and management at the transnational Alpine scale.
population; wolves; Alpine; estimate; monitoring; transboundary
2023, Volume: 13, number: 22, article number: 3551
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