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WOLF POPULATION ESTIMATE IN ITALY AND MONITORING PERSPECTIVES
MATTIOLI L. ¹, FORCONI P. ², BERZI D. ³, PERCO F. 4
¹ Provincia di Arezzo, ² Studio Faunistico Chiros, ³ Canis lupus Italia, 4 Parco Nazionale Monti Sibillini
IX Congresso Italiano di Teriologia - Civitella Alfedena (AQ) 7-10 maggio 2014
In Italy several estimates of the wolf population (Canis lupus) were produced from early 1970s to final 1990s.
According to these contributions, the wolf population increased from 100-110 to 400-500 individuals
(extrapolated densities), and the total range increased from 8,500 to 25,000 km² (Zimen e Boitani, 1975;
Boitani, 1984; Boscagli, 1991; Ciucci e Boitani, 1998). At the beginning of the ‘70s a density of 1.70 wolf/100
km² was calculated in a sample protected area, and in 1998 the mean density adopted was 2 wolf/100 km². In
the last 15 years, only guessed estimates (expert opinions) were produced, varying from 600 to 1000
individuals. The National Action Plan for wolf conservation in Italy (Genovesi, 2002) highlighted the priority of a
national monitoring program, but until now it was not achieved. Nevertheless, in the last decade genetic
studies and photo/video trapping techniques made a significant contribution in improving estimates, and many
protected areas as well as regional and provincial administrations carried out wolf monitoring programs at a
local scale.
The aims of this study are:
1) to produce an up-to-date estimate of the minimum number of
wolves present in the most intensively monitored areas of Italy;
2) to draw the permanent wolf range and, according to this
information;
3) to infer an estimate of the total population size of the species in
Italy.
Code
Area
1 – STUDY AREAS
We reviewed data about number, localization and size of wolf packs, in 20 study areas, available from articles,
reports or conference proceedings (Table 1). For each study site, in order to calculate a comparable pack
density, we drew the most likely area occupied by packs, on the basis of available data (summer home-sites,
snow tracks, actual home range from telemetry and non-invasive genetics). We followed a conservative
approach, taking into account the mean inter-pack distance and the amount of usable space by packs.
One hundred and eighty-one wolf packs corresponding to at least 773 individuals (winter estimate, excluding
extra pack individuals) were confirmed to be present, although non simultaneously, in the 20 study areas
(32,620 km²).
Area
Data source
Marucco, Avanzinelli, Colombo, 2012; Randi
et al, 2012
Marucco, Avanzinelli, Colombo, 2012; Randi
et al, 2012
1
Alps (Piemonte e Liguria)
2
Liguria Appennine (np)
3
Tosco-Emiliano Appennine and PNATE (p) Randi et al, 2012
4
Province of Bologna (np)
5
Estimated Estimated
Study period pack range
pack
(km²)
number
Mean pack
size
Estimated
wolves
number
Pack density Wolf density
/100 km²
/100 km²
2010-2011
5902
21
3,90
82
0,36
1,39
2010-2011
1994
6
4,24
25
0,30
1,28
2002-2011
2079
16
4,24
68
0,77
3,26
Martelli et al, 2011; Randi et al, 2012;
Report 2013;
2012
1816
15
4,56
68
0,83
3,77
Province of Florence (np)
Randi et al, 2012; Berzi, 2013;
2013
2100
10
4,24
42
0,48
2,02
6
PNFC (p)
Mencucci et al, 2006; Randi et al., 2012
2006-2011
944
9
4,24
38
0,95
4,04
7
Province of Arezzo (np)
Mattioli, Apollonio., 2013
2013
2741
15
4,36
65
0,55
2,39
8
Marche Region (north-central) (np)
Giacchini, Scotti, Zabaglia, 2013
2010-2011
2684
15
4,75
71
0,56
2,65
9
PNMS (p)
Forconi, 2012
2012
1180
10
4,50
45
0,85
3,81
10
Amiata Mount. (np)
Gazzola, Zingaro, Gandolfi, 2013;
2013
738
3
4,24
13
0,41
1,72
11
PNGSML (p)
Report project LIFE07 NAT/IT/000502
2005-2009
1934
11
4,50
50
0,57
2,56
12
PRSIRVEL (p)
Morini, 2008
2006-2008
1010
5
4,50
23
0,50
2,23
13
Province of Rieti (np)
Boscagli, 2006
2006
900
6
4,24
25
0,67
2,83
14
PNMAJ (p)
Antonucci et al, 2013
2013
1135
11
4,50
50
0,97
4,36
15
PRMSIMBR (p)
Tarquini et al ,2011
2009-2011
613
3
4,00
12
0,49
1,96
16
PNALM (p)
Grottoli et al., 2009
2006-2009
1115
7
4,38
31
0,63
2,75
17
Dauno Appennine (np)
Pennacchioni, 2006
2006
870
5
4,16
21
0,57
2,39
18
PNPOLL (p)
Liccioli, 2004
2001-2003
1325
7
3,00
21
0,53
1,58
19
PNSILA *
Crispino et al, 2008
2004-2008
784
2
3,00
6
Not used for density
estimate
20
PNASPR *
Crispino et al, 2008
2005-2006
663
4
4,24
17
Not used for density
estimate
32527
181
773
0,63 *
TOTAL /MEAN (* Appennine)
Pack density:
ALPS = 0,36/100 km²
APPENNINE = 0,70/100 km²
(p= Protected areas)
APPENNINE = 0,53/100 km²
(np= Not protected areas)
Mean pack size resulted
lower in the Alps than in
the Apennines
2,68 *
Table. 1 – Estimated pack range, number of estimated packs and mean pack size in winter in the 20 study areas considered
(p: protected area; np: not protected area). Pack density and wolf density are derived from these data.
2 – PERMANENT WOLF RANGE
To draw the permanent wolf range, we reviewed published material. Furthermore, 16 contributors provided data on wolf
presence across Italy (Molinari Luigi, Canestrini Mia, Varuzza Paolo, Ricci Luigi, Marini Giorgio, d’Alessio Silvio, Cerquitelli
Riccardo, Carpino Filomena, Ianiro Alfonso, Sorino Rocco, Frassanito Anna Grazia, Gaudiano Lorenzo, Priore Giuseppe,
Gervasio Giacomo, Crispino Francesca e Urso Salvatore).
The permanent range of the species (i.e. pack presence over several years) has reached about 74,000 km², 6,000 of which
in the Alps (Piemonte-Liguria-Val d’Aosta).
Fig. 1 – Location of the 20 study areas considered in this work to
estimate minimum population size and wolf density in Italy.
The mean pack density was
0.36 packs and 1.39
wolves/100 km² in the
Alpine region of Piemonte Liguria and 0.63 packs
(0.54 -0.72 95% CI; n= 17
areas) pack and 2.69
wolves/100 km² in the rest
of Italy.
Pack size
(n° of wolves/pack in
winter):
ALPS = 3,9 (n= 16)
APPENNINE = 4,24 (n= 54)
Permanent wolf range: 74.000 km²
Wolf population estimate: 1600 – 1900 lupi
3 – WOLF POPULATION ESTIMATE IN ITALY
To estimate the total population, two approaches were used:
• First: we added to 773 wolves assessed in the 20 study areas, those estimated in the remaining area of 42.000 km² adopting a
conservative density of 2,0 wolves/100 km².
• Second one, different mean densities for the Alps (1.4 wolves/100 km²) and for Apennines (2,99 wolf/100 km² in protected areas, 2.35
wolves/100 km² in non protected) were applied. Protected areas are intended as national and regional parks with a 5 km buffer.
All values are winter minimum density. The estimated population for whole Italy is comprised between 1,600 (method 1) and 1,900
wolves (method 2).
Wolf numbers fluctuate every year at a local level due to natural and human factors. In some regions, conflicts with livestock farmers is
growing, accompanied by acts of poaching, which generate some changes in population size between and across years. Nevertheless the
wolf population seem still expanding and new areas have been recently occupied (not considered in this estimate), such as Lessinia,
Dolomiti Bellunesi, Natisone Valley, Mount Conero, Aurunci Mountains. Finally, hybridization with dogs appear to be growing, probably
also due to improving in genetic techniques, and the present estimate is accordingly referred to the admixed population of wolves and
hybrids.
SUGGESTIONS FOR WOLF MONITORING IN ITALY
Better estimate can be obtained in the future by planning a national monitoring strategy, increasing the number of sample areas, and
including new settlements. Monitoring techniques can be grouped in 2 levels:
• a preliminary one with snow tracking and wolf howling with spectrographic analysis of recorded howls;
• an advanced one with non-invasive genetic studies and videotraps.
Non-invasive genetic can be very useful to distinguish different packs and to identify hybrids, while videotraps are useful in estimating
group size, producing better estimates than other techniques.
Non-invasive genetic can be very useful to distinguish different packs and to identify hybrids, while videotraps are useful in estimating
group size, producing better estimates than other techniques
TOWARD A NATIONAL WOLF NETWORK ?
In Italy, difficulty in updating wolf estimate at national level reflects the
lack of a national network between public and private operators and
the Italian specific research fragmentation.
In the last years some attempts to fill this gap are raising. One of these
is WIDE Wolf Italian Database for Europe. You can see it at
http://webgis.ar-tel.it/wide
The principle aim of WIDE is to develop an open webgis database on
wolf in Italy to improve conservation strategy.
For further information please contact: [email protected]
References
Fig. 2 – Permanent wolf range in Italy updated to 2013.
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