Mammalian Biology

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Use of space and homesite attendance by Iberian wolves during the breeding season

  • Helena Rio-MaiorEmail author
  • Pedro Beja
  • Mónia Nakamura
  • Francisco Álvares
Original investigation


The persistence of large carnivores in human-dominated landscapes is conditional on the preservation of adequate ecological conditions during the reproduction period, when they may be particularly susceptible to human disturbance. However, little is known about the breeding behaviour of large carnivores in these landscapes, though this is important for conservation management. Here we describe the space use and homesite attendance patterns of wolves inhabiting humanised landscapes of north-western Portugal, based on GPS tracking of 11 individuals in 2008–2013. Parturitions (N = 3) occurred in late May, with pups remaining at natal dens for 24–85 days, after which they were moved to a first and then sometimes to a second rendezvous site. Two of these movements were associated with human disturbance events. Breeding females (N = 4) spent a large proportion of time with pups during pre-weaning (≈ 2 months after birth), leaving only at night during short periods; thereafter they progressively reduced time at homesites (i.e, natal dens and rendezvous sites), and increased both daily travel distances and daytime activity. Throughout the pup-rearing season, breeding females restricted their movements to within ≈ 2 km of homesites. Non-breedingfemales (N = 4) showed significantly lower attendance rates than breedingfemales, particularly during pre-weaning, and they had much less restricted movements throughout the breeding season, with activity occurring throughout the circadian cycle. Non-breeding males (N = 3) showed attendance and space-use patterns intermediate between breeding and non-breeding females, with movements largely concentrated within the same areas used by breeding females. Our findings suggest that breeding wolves may be particularly susceptible to human activities occurring within 2 km of homesites, although further research is needed to assess the ultimate effect of such disturbance on reproductive success and pup survival.


Breeding behaviour Canis lupus Conservation Human-dominated landscapes Large carnivores 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helena Rio-Maior
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pedro Beja
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mónia Nakamura
    • 1
  • Francisco Álvares
    • 1
  1. 1.CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosUniversidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  2. 2.CEABN/InBio, Centro de Ecologia Aplicada “Professor Baeta Neves”, Instituto Superior de AgronomiaUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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