Natural Resources, School of


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Ecosphere, December 2020, Volume 11(12) , Article e03320




We modeled resource selection by wolves (Canis spp.), eastern coyotes (C. latrans), and admixed canids during the pup-rearing season at den and rendezvous sites (collectively, homesites) within a largely unprotected landscape proposed as the recovery zone for federally and provincially threatened eastern wolves (C. lycaon) in Ontario, Canada. Overall, canids selected wetlands, while avoiding secondary roads and open-structure rock-grass habitat patches. Packs with greater wolf ancestry selected wetlands and tertiary roads more strongly, while avoiding mixed conifer-hardwood forests. Contrary to our prediction, canids with greater coyote ancestry did not establish homesites closer to roads, which likely mitigated their risk of human-caused mortality during pup-rearing. Packs exhibited increased selection of wetlands within territories as a function of increasing availability of wetlands. Packs with abundant access to wetlands may prioritize this habitat type to exploit beavers, a valuable prey species during pup-rearing. Packs with higher pup survival selected hardwood forests and avoided conifer forests more than packs with lower pup survival. This is consistent with our understanding of habitat relations of the main prey species for canids in central Ontario and suggests that selecting prey-rich habitat types at homesites increases fitness. A proposed goal of eastern wolf recovery is numerical and geographical expansion outside of the population core in Algonquin Provincial Park. Thus, our results provide valuable information for conservation by quantifying resource selection of wolves, coyotes, and hybrids during pup-rearing and identifying links between fitness and homesite selection.