6 - Influence of natural landscape fragmentation and resource availability on distribution and connectivity of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the archipelago of coastal British Columbia, Canada  pp. 130-156

Influence of natural landscape fragmentation and resource availability on distribution and connectivity of gray wolves (<i>Canis lupus</i>) in the archipelago of coastal British Columbia, Canada

By Paul C. Paquet, Shelley M. Alexander, Patricia L. Swan and Chris T. Darimont

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INTRODUCTION

Connectivity has emerged as an important ecological concept relating to how animals move among habitat patches in fragmented environments. Although connectivity is often considered landscape- and species-specific (Tischendorf and Fahrig 2000; Taylor et al. Chapter 2), fundamental ecological and physical processes influence movements of all species. Taylor et al. (1993) define connectivity as “the degree to which the landscape facilitates or impedes movement among resource patches.” Most research, however, has centered on impediments to movement. For example, Tischendorf and Fahrig (2000) argue that landscape connectivity is “essentially equivalent to the inverse of patch isolation over the landscape.” Herein we examine landscape and resource features that not only potentially impede (i.e., isolation) but also might facilitate (i.e., availability of food) movement of wolves (Canis lupus) using coastal islands in British Columbia, Canada.

Investigations of oceanic archipelagos have revealed how island communities and species composition are related to area, isolation, and other island characteristics (e.g., MacArthur and Wilson 1967; Abbott 1974; Kadmon and Pulliam 1993; Conroy et al. 1999). Biogeographic features, however, may also exert influence at the population level, including the mediation of predator–prey dynamics on islands or in other fragmented systems (Kareiva 1990; Kareiva and Wennergren 1995; Dolman and Sutherland 1997; Darimont et al. 2004). The equilibrium theory of island biogeography (MacArthur and Wilson 1967) and metapopulation theory (Levins 1976; Gilpin and Hanski 1991; Hanski and Gilpin 1996; Moilanen and Hanski Chapter 3) postulated several abiotic mechanisms explaining animal distribution and population persistence in patchy landscapes.

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