Foraging strategies of wolverines within a predator guild

van Dijk, Jiska; Andersen, Tommy; May, Roel; Andersen, Reidar; Andersen, Roy; Landa, Arild
September 2008
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Sep2008, Vol. 86 Issue 9, p966
Academic Journal
Within the predator guild, wolverines (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)) have evolved as generalist predators and scavengers on prey killed by other predators. The recovery of wolves (Canis lupus L., 1758) in the boreal forests of southern Norway during the late 1990s may have triggered consequent recolonization by wolverines through increased carcass availability. We investigated winter foraging behavior of wolverines in the boreal forest with regard to wolf, lynx (Lynx lynx (L., 1758)), and red fox (Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758)) presence. We followed 55 wolverine tracks in the snow from at least nine individuals for a total of 237 km during the winters of 2003-2004. We documented 19 moose (Alces alces (L., 1758)) and 4 bird carcasses, and no successful hunts. Wolverines did not follow guild species trails directly to carcasses; however, they did change their movement patterns after red fox encounters. While wolverines were more active at higher elevations, the probability of encountering a wolf was higher at lower elevations, suggesting a spatial separation between wolverines and wolves. Although wolverines seem to depend on wolf for carrion during winter, they did not use wolf trails to find carcasses. This may indicate that wolverines reduce risk of intraguild predation by avoiding direct confrontation with wolves. Au sein de la guilde des prédateurs, les gloutons (Gulo gulo (L., 1758)) ont évolué comme prédateurs généralistes et comme charognards des proies tuées par d’autres prédateurs. Le rétablissement des loups (Canis lupus L., 1758) dans les forêts boréales du sud de la Norvège durant la fin des années 1990 peut avoir déclenché la recolonisation subséquente des gloutons à cause de la disponibilité accrue de carcasses. Nous avons étudié le comportement de recherche de nourriture des gloutons en hiver dans la forêt boréale en fonction de la présence de loups, de lynx (Lynx lynx (L., 1758)) et de renards roux (Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758)). Nous avons suivi 55 pistes de gloutons dans la neige faites par au moins neuf individus sur une distance totale de 237 km pendant les hivers 2003 et 2004. Nous avons observé 19 carcasses d’élans (Alces alces (L., 1758)) et 4 carcasses d’oiseaux, mais aucune indication de chasse réussie. Les gloutons ne suivent pas les pistes des prédateurs directement vers les carcasses, mais ils changent leur patron de déplacement après une rencontre avec un renard roux. Alors que les gloutons sont plus actifs aux altitudes plus grandes, leur chance de rencontrer un loup est plus grande aux altitudes plus basses, ce qui indique une séparation spatiale entre les gloutons et les loups. Bien que les gloutons semblent dépendre des loups pour obtenir des charognes pendant l’hiver, ils n’utilisent pas les pistes de loups pour localiser les carcasses. Cela peut indiquer que les gloutons réduisent le risque de prédation à l’intérieur de la guilde des prédateurs en évitant les confrontations directes avec les loups.


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