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Exploring the diet of arctic wolves (Canislupusarctos) at their northern range limit
- Dalerum, F., Freire, S., Angerbjörn, A., Lecomte, N., Lindgren, Å., Meijer, T., Pečnerová, P., Dalén, L.
- Canadian journal of zoology 2018 v.96 no.3 pp. 277-281
- Canis lupus, Dicrostonyx, Lepus, Ovibos moschatus, Rangifer tarandus, basins, carnivores, diet, ecosystems, feces, global warming, hares, predation, predator-prey relationships, ungulates, wolves, Arctic region, Canada, Greenland, Washington (state)
- The grey wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) is one of the most widespread large carnivores on Earth, and occurs throughout the Arctic. Although wolf diet is well studied, we have scant information from high Arctic areas. Global warming is expected to increase the importance of predation for ecosystem regulation in Arctic environments. To improve our ability to manage Arctic ecosystems under environmental change, we therefore need knowledge about Arctic predator diets. Prey remains in 54 wolf scats collected at three sites in the high Arctic region surrounding the Hall Basin (Judge Daly Promontory, Ellesmere Island, Canada, and Washington Land and Hall Land, both in northwestern Greenland) pointed to a dietary importance of arctic hare (Lepus arcticus Ross, 1819; 55% frequency of occurrence) and muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus (Zimmermann, 1780); 39% frequency of occurrence), although we observed diet variation among the sites. A literature compilation suggested that arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos Pocock, 1935) preferentially feed on caribou (Rangifer tarandus (Linnaeus, 1758)) and muskoxen, but can sustain themselves on arctic hares and Greenland collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus (Traill, 1823)) in areas with limited or no ungulate populations. We suggest that climate change may alter the dynamics among wolves, arctic hare, muskoxen, and caribou, and we encourage further studies evaluating how climate change influences predator–prey interactions in high Arctic environments.