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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Trans-Boundary Edge Effects in the Western Carpathians: The Influence of Hunting on Large Carnivore Occupancy

Kutal, Miroslav; Váňa, Martin; Suchomel, Josef; Chapron, Guillaume; López-Bao, José Vicente


The conservation and management of wolves Canis lupus in the periphery of their distribution is challenging. Edges of wolf distribution are characterized by very few and intermittent occurrences of individuals, which are modulated by multiple factors affecting the overall population such as human-caused mortality, management targets and food availability. The knowledge of population dynamics in the edges becomes crucial when hunting takes place nearby the edges, which may preclude population expansion. Here, using as example the occurrence of wolves in the Beskydy Mountains (Czech-Slovak border), which are the edge distribution of the wolf and Eurasian lynx Lynx/ynxpopulations in the West Carpathians, we explored how food availability and hunting in the Slovakian core area affected the dynamics of wolves in the edges of this population. During 2003-2012, we monitored large carnivore occurrence by snow-tracking surveys and tested potential differences in the occurrence of these species in Beskydy Mountains and potential mechanisms behind detected patterns. Despite the proximity to the core area, with several wolf reproductions being confirmed at least in recent years, the wolf was a very rare species in Beskydy and was recorded 14 times less often than the lynx. The expected abundance of wolves in the Beskydy Mountains was inversely related to prey availability in the Slovakian core area. Wolf hunting the year before influenced the expected abundance of wolves in Beskydy area. We discuss how different life histories and legal status of both species probably account for most of the observed difference of occurrence at range margins.

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2016, Volume: 11, number: 12, article number: e0168292

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