Latest wolf print article, 2016

In this latest article I talk about the role of humans in food-webs and how our everyday actions can affect wildlife at home and around the globe. We are not separate from nature, so I discuss how we can help improve our conservation efforts and understanding of ecological processes by including ourselves as part of the food-web.

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Recent conference presentations

I’ve recently given some talks at the 2016 North Wales Mammal Symposium and the 2016 WEEN (Welsh Ecology & Evolution Network) conference. Both have been incredibly enjoyable and informative experiences. Sharing ideas, networking and hearing about other scientific work can not only be incredibly helpful but also very inspiring to help keep us motivated to do what we do.  Public events let people hear about what we do, help to spread positive messages, share knowledge but also hopefully inspires positive action on everyone’s behalf as well. For those interested in my abstract from the 2016 WEEN conference, I have attached it below…

Investigating intraguild suppression among Croatia’s carnivores.  

Peter, M. Haswell 1, Jones, K. A. 1, Kusak, J. 2 and Hayward, M. W.1

1Bangor University, 2Zagreb University.

 

Interactions between large carnivores and other species may be responsible for impacts that are disproportionately large relative to their density. The phenomenon known as mesopredator release is the resultant increase of mesopredator populations after a decline in larger predators. Intraguild predation, competitive killing and interference competition are common where niche and body mass between predators overlap. Interference interactions from larger carnivores pose risk to smaller mesopredators and have the ability to affect population demography in a manner that is not always density dependent. Apex predators may not always suppress spatio-temporal patterns, behaviour and densities of mesopredators. In some contexts however, suppression by apex predators can result in landscape scale distribution patterns between predators. Suppressive interactions between carnivores combined with bottom-up effects of environmental productivity can ultimately drive prey species abundance and the resultant ecosystem dynamics.

The mesopredator release hypothesis and the idea of larger predators suppressing smaller predators has received relatively little empirical study, particularly in Europe. Given the vulnerability of large carnivores to anthropogenic disturbance, a growing human population and intensifying resource consumption, it becomes increasingly important to understand ecological processes so that land can be managed appropriately. We present preliminary findings showing that in an area with minimal human interference (Plitvička Jezera national park), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) adjusted their foraging behaviour in response to a risk cue (wolf urine) suggesting presence of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Additional investigations being undertaken to understand behavioural interactions between Croatia’s carnivore guild as well as the potential for anthropogenic interference will also be discussed.

Some snaps from the 2015 field season

As I prepare my departure for another summer of field work in Croatia I have realised how fast the year has flown by since I was last in the beautiful Plitvička jezera national park. I had a successful summer collecting lots of data from my foraging experiments examining how simulated presence of wolves affects the behaviour of smaller mesopredators (red foxes). Camera trapping continues along nicely as do our radio-telemetry efforts. We now have a lynx inside the park wearing a tracking collar and another in Gorski kotar. With the help of my little field assistant dog Alfred we also managed to track down some key wildlife spots and collect lots of scat samples for dietary analysis. Between my teaching commitments, a PGCERThe and my PhD i’ve been pretty busy but I thought it about time I managed to get some pictures up. Hopefully I won’t be so long in adding this years pictures. Enjoy!

Large carnivore impacts are context-dependent

 

I am very pleased to announce the pre-release (still to be copy-edited) of Haswell et al., (2016) Large carnivore impacts are context dependent. This review forms the first chapter of my PhD and will be going in alongside papers by some of the great scientists in my field for a special large carnivore issue of the food webs journal. Full text of the pre-release can be found here:

Haswell et al_2016_context dependent apex pred impacts_review

15112009592

 

A new grant has been awarded!

THE COALBOURN CHARITABLE TRUST have generously awarded me a grant to assist with the development and undertaking of foraging experiments to investigate how inter-specific interactions between both wolves and mesopredators, as well as wolves and prey species are affected by context. This generous donation has made the expansion of the project possible and we now have some exciting investigation directions and field experiments planned for the summer.🙂

Some exciting news

bangor

So I have some pretty exciting news that I thought it time to share.

I recently began working as a graduate teaching assistant at Bangor University (UK) where I am now also conducting my PhD research. As you can imagine I am incredibly pleased and excited about the appointment. I will be expanding my work in Croatia and will now be able to give the research the time it deserves. This is great news for the research which will now have a great deal more support. The core focus of the research has remained the same and I will have the opportunity to widen the study, collecting more data and asking more questions. I will also be enjoying my involvement teaching students in the school of Biological Science.

Bangor-University-007Here’s an idea of what I will be looking at over the coming years….

“Is the impact of apex predator’s context dependent? Examining landscapes of fear and interspecific interactions with the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) in human dominated landscapes”

 Large carnivore decline and trophic downgrading is a common occurrence and something of great concern worldwide 1. The impacts of world-wide predator decline and the relative importance of direct and indirect species interactions have been highlighted as fundamental ecological questions 2. Caution has been expressed in seeing wolves as ecological saviours because ecosystem services may not always apply or may be inhibited by anthropogenic activity 3. It is important to understand how the impacts of apex predators are shaped by this variable context and if this context can be manipulated to achieve management goals.

A key question is, whether the wolf’s impact on the use of space and time by other species is consistent and constant regardless of context. This study aims to improve understanding of spatio-temporal partitioning between wolves, ungulates (prey), mesopredators (kleptoparasites) and humans (competitors/predators). Interspecific interactions with the grey wolf will be examined in three geographic regions of Croatia (high, moderate and low human disturbance). We will use GPS technology and motion activated cameras alongside traditional field studies to gain insight into how behaviour and interspecific interactions are affected by context. Knowledge gained will inform management decisions and conservation efforts.

1              Estes, J. et al. Trophic downgrading of planet earth. Science 333, 301-306, doi:10.1126/science.1205106 (2011).

2              Sutherland, W. J. et al. Identification of 100 fundamental ecological questions. J Ecol 101, 58-67, doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12025 (2013).

3              Mech, L. Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf? Biol Conserv 150, 143–149, doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.03.003 (2012).

Happy Wolf Awareness Week!

Happy wolf awareness week everyone.

Last week saw the international wolf symposium where professor Kusak presented a preliminary report on our findings in Croatia. The abstract can be viewed on page 47 of the  2013_International Wolf_Symposium_programme

2013_IWS_symposium presentation

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those on a quest for wolf knowledge and discussions with friends and colleagues this week, here’s a list of links to get you started.

The UK Wolf Conservation Trust

A great infographic blog about american wolf recovery by Defenders of Wildlife

A short wolf info page by national Geographic

For those of you with google translate the life project page for the Croatian wolf project.

The IUCN canids specialist publications page

And let’s not forget our domestic sub-species of wolves, the dog, here’s a great range of information leaflets on dog care by the blue cross.

And don’t forget the publications section of the blog for a few articles from me🙂

I hope everyone has a great week!