How humans shape wolf behavior in Banff and Kootenay National Parks, Canada

Marco Musiani, Sk Morshed Anwar, Gregory J. McDermid, Mark Hebblewhite, Danielle J. Marceau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper describes the conceptualization and implementation of an agent-based model to investigate how varying levels of human presence could affect elements of wolf behavior, including highway crossings; use of areas in proximity to roads and trails; size of home ranges; activities, such as hunting, patrolling, resting, and feeding pups; and survival of individuals in Banff and Kootenay National Parks, Canada. The model consists of a wolf module as the primary component with five packs represented as cognitive agents, and grizzly bear, elk, and human modules that represent dynamic components of the environment. A set of environmental data layers was used to develop a friction model that serves as a base map representing the landscape over which wolves moved. A decision model was built to simulate the sequence of wolf activities. The model was implemented in a Java Programming Language using RePast, an agent-based modeling library. Six months of wolf activities were simulated from April 16 to October 15 (i.e., a season coherent with regard to known wolf behaviors), and calibrated with GPS data from wolf radiocollars (n= 15) deployed from 2002 to 2004. Results showed that the simulated trajectories of wolf movements were correlated with the observed trajectories (Spearman's rho 0.566, P< 0.001); other critical behaviors, such as time spent at the den and not traveling were also correlated. The simulations revealed that wolf movements and behaviors were noticeably affected by the intensity of human presence. The packs' home ranges shrank and wolves crossed highways less frequently with increased human presence. In an extreme example, a wolf pack whose home range is traversed by a high-traffic-volume highway was extirpated due to inability to hunt successfully under a scenario wherein human presence levels were increased 10-fold. The modeling prototype developed in this study may serve as a tool to test hypotheses about human effects on wolves and on other mammals, and guide decision-makers in designing management strategies that minimize impacts on wolves and on other species functionally related to wolves in the ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2374-2387
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume221
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • Agent-based model
  • Banff National Park
  • Human impact
  • Human-wildlife interaction
  • Kootenay National Park
  • Recreation
  • Wolf

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