Protected areas are important in species conservation, but high rates of human-caused mortality outside their borders and increasing popularity for recreation can negatively affect wildlife populations. We quantified wolverine (Gulo gulo) population trends from 2011 to 2020 in > 14,000 km2 protected and non-protected habitat in southwestern Canada. We conducted wolverine and multi-species surveys using non-invasive DNA and remote camera-based methods. We developed Bayesian integrated models combining spatial capture-recapture data of marked and unmarked individuals with occupancy data. Wolverine density and occupancy declined by 39%, with an annual population growth rate of 0.925. Density within protected areas was 3 times higher than outside and declined between 2011 (3.6 wolverines/1000 km2) and 2020 (2.1 wolverines/1000 km2). Wolverine density and detection probability increased with snow cover and decreased near development. Detection probability also decreased with human recreational activity. The annual harvest rate of ≥ 13% was above the maximum sustainable rate. We conclude that humans negatively affected the population through direct mortality, sub-lethal effects and habitat impacts. Our study exemplifies the need to monitor population trends for species at risk—within and between protected areas—as steep declines can occur unnoticed if key conservation concerns are not identified and addressed.

Protection status, human disturbance, snow cover and trapping drive density of a declining wolverine population in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Musiani M.
2022

Abstract

Protected areas are important in species conservation, but high rates of human-caused mortality outside their borders and increasing popularity for recreation can negatively affect wildlife populations. We quantified wolverine (Gulo gulo) population trends from 2011 to 2020 in > 14,000 km2 protected and non-protected habitat in southwestern Canada. We conducted wolverine and multi-species surveys using non-invasive DNA and remote camera-based methods. We developed Bayesian integrated models combining spatial capture-recapture data of marked and unmarked individuals with occupancy data. Wolverine density and occupancy declined by 39%, with an annual population growth rate of 0.925. Density within protected areas was 3 times higher than outside and declined between 2011 (3.6 wolverines/1000 km2) and 2020 (2.1 wolverines/1000 km2). Wolverine density and detection probability increased with snow cover and decreased near development. Detection probability also decreased with human recreational activity. The annual harvest rate of ≥ 13% was above the maximum sustainable rate. We conclude that humans negatively affected the population through direct mortality, sub-lethal effects and habitat impacts. Our study exemplifies the need to monitor population trends for species at risk—within and between protected areas—as steep declines can occur unnoticed if key conservation concerns are not identified and addressed.
Barrueto M.; Forshner A.; Whittington J.; Clevenger A.P.; Musiani M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/901484
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