Gray wolf

Katie M. Dugger, Beth Orning

Latin name: Canis lupus

PhD student Beth Orning is working to understand predator competition between wolves and cougar in northeast Oregon. Ecological data on intact predator systems in Oregon are lacking, and wolf re-colonization across the West raises questions regarding interspecific competition between wolves and cougar as well as about the impacts of multiple predators on elk and mule deer populations. The conclusions of recent projects investigating cougar-elk dynamics provide data on cougar populations and predation patterns prior to wolf re-colonization. This presents a unique opportunity in Oregon to observe changes in cougar predation patterns, investigate interactions between wolves and cougar, and examine multi-predator effects on ungulate populations as wolves increase their distribution in the state. Beth's research will determine wolf predation rates and prey selection and compare changes in cougar prey selection, space use, and survival between time periods before and after wolf re-colonization. - Beth Orning

The wolf is the most widely distributed land mammal in the world, and an apex predator in most of the ecosystems it inhabits. As the subject of myth, legend, folklore, and fairytale wolves have a divisive, complicated relationship with humans. Wolves were persecuted by extensive eradication efforts across the globe that reduced their numbers and range, bringing them to near extirpation from the contiguous United States half a century ago. Scientists and managers of wildlife now realize large carnivores are important components of healthy ecosystems, helping to structure and shape ecological relationships among entire communities of species. Under the guidance of Dr. Katie Dugger, PhD Candidate Beth Orning is working to develop multiple-carnivore predation and vulnerability risk maps for prey populations that consider competitive interactions with cougar. - Katie Dugger

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