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Home range analysis and habitat preferences of wolves recolonising Central European human-dominated landscapes
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  • Aleš Vorel,
  • Ivo Kadlec,
  • Tadeáš Toulec,
  • Aldin Selimovic,
  • Jan Horníček,
  • Oldřich Vojtěch,
  • Jan Mokrý,
  • Lukáš Pavlačík,
  • Walter Arnold,
  • Jessica Cornils,
  • Miroslav Kutal,
  • Martin Duľa,
  • Lukáš Žák,
  • Vojta Bartak,
Aleš Vorel
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze Fakulta životního prostředí

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ivo Kadlec
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze Fakulta životního prostředí
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Tadeáš Toulec
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague Faculty of Environmental Sciences
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Aldin Selimovic
Vetmeduni Vienna
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Jan Horníček
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze Fakulta životního prostředí
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Oldřich Vojtěch
Šumava National Park Administration
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Jan Mokrý
Šumava National Park Administration
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Lukáš Pavlačík
Wildlife Photo
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Walter Arnold
Vetmeduni Vienna
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Jessica Cornils
Vetmeduni Vienna
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Miroslav Kutal
Mendel University in Brno
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Martin Duľa
Mendel University in Brno
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Lukáš Žák
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze Fakulta životního prostředí
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Vojta Bartak,
Ceska Zemedelska Univerzita v Praze
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Abstract

Decades of persecution resulted in the long-term absence of Grey wolves (Canis lupus) from most European countries. However, recent changes in both legislation and public attitudes toward wolves have eased the pressure and, over the last 20 years, wolves have begun rapidly re-establishing territories in their previous Central European habitats. Unfortunately, those habitats are now heavily altered by humans. Understanding the spatial ecology of wolves in such highly modified environments is crucial, given the high potential for conflict and the need to reconcile their return with multiple human concerns. We equipped twelve wolves (from eight packs) in five Central European areas with GPS collars and calculated their monthly home ranges using Autocorrelated Kernel Density Estimation. In addition, we used ESA WorldCover data to assess the mosaic of available habitats within each home range. Home range size for most wolves (84.6%) ranged from 56.4 to 259.7 km2. Our data confirmed the general seasonal pattern for breeding individuals, with smaller apparent home ranges during the reproduction phase and non-breeders showing no specific pattern. Somewhat predictably, our wolves showed a general preference for remote areas, and especially forests. Some animals within military training areas also showed a broader preference for grasslands, which could be influenced by the specific land use of this habitat type and the high availability of prey. Our results provide a comprehensive insight into the ecology of wolves during their re-colonisation of Central Europe. Though wolves are spreading relatively rapidly across Central European landscapes, their permanent reoccupation remains uncertain due to conflicting concerns with the human population. To secure the restoration of European wolf populations, further robust biological data, including data on spatial ecology, will be needed to clearly identify the management implications.
20 Oct 2023Submitted to Wildlife Biology
20 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
20 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
20 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 Oct 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned