Winter Hunting Behavior and Habitat Selection of Wolves in a Low-density Prey System

24 October 2017

Johnson, Ian; Brinkman, Todd; Lake, Bryce; Brown, Casey

The functional response is the relationship between food intake rates and prey density, and is shaped by factors including handling time, predator speed, habitat, or prey movement. For many predator-prey systems, the density-dependent functional response is represented by a Type II or Type III functional response. Determination of the relationship type is important, as managers can often predict the response of predators to changing prey densities. In wolf-moose (Canis lupus, Alces alces) systems with relatively high prey density, the functional response often follows a predicted Type II functional response. However, in a very low prey-density system, wolves have previously been shown to escape the density dependent phase of the functional response and demonstrated kill rates mimicking high prey-density systems. We conducted a study to evaluate winter wolf movements between moose kills in the Yukon Flats, Alaska where moose exist at densities