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European Wolves

Italy Ngala Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-09-2017, 07:07 PM by Ngala )

This is a thread dedicate to the European wolves. Share photos, videos, data and all information about these wolves.

There are many works on genetic and studies on population about the wolves in Europe, so i tried to take the most useful information from the various studies, to make a description below.

GENETIC DIFFERENCES AND TAXONOMIC NOTES
Based on the microsatellites markers, in Europe we can recognizable ten different populations of wolves (Chapron et al., 2014; Hindrikson et al., 2016):

1 - Scandinavian population 
2 - Karelian population 
3 - Baltic population 
4 - Central European Lowland population
5 - Italian peninsular population 
6 - Alpine population 
7 - Carpathian population 
8 - Dinaric-Balkan population 
9 - North-west Iberian population 
10 - Sierra-Morena population

The two populations from Italy, we can consider a one, composed by two subpopulations (Alpine and Apennine); the same for the Iberian Peninsula (North-West Iberia and Sierra-Morena).

The Italian wolf, named Canis lupus italicus, described by Altobello in 1900, is genetically separated from other wolves in Europe (Nowak & Federoff, 2002). The same applies for the Iberian wolf, named Canis lupus signatus, described by Cabrera in 1907 (Ramírez et al., 2006). This separation is supported also by Ersmark et al., 2016, after the DNA analysis based on haplotypes. He says:

"In Eurasian wolves, there are few decisive signs of population structure shaped by glacial refugia during the LGM, something which has been suggested for other mammals (Taberlet and Bouvet, 1994; Stewart et al., 2010). One example is the Italian wolf population, which is clearly distinct, and positioned close to the ancient wolves in the phylogeny. Other studies have estimated that this population was in fact isolated for thousands of generations in the Italian Peninsula (Lucchini et al., 2004). Interestingly, genomic data from a recent study revealed genetic distinctiveness in wolves from both from the Italian and the Iberian peninsulas, explaining it as a result of isolation during the LGM (vonHoldt et al., 2011)."

The other populations are attributable to the nominal subspecies, Canis lupus lupus (Linnaeus, 1758).

DISTRIBUTION
From Hindrikson et al., 2016:

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fig. 1. Wolf distribution and directions of gene flow in Europe. Green indicates wolf permanent occurrence, and dark grey sporadic occurrence (modified from Chapron et al., 2014). Wolf occurrence in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is not marked on the map. Confirmed dispersal between and within wolf populations is indicated by red arrows (numbers correspond to those given in Appendix S2).

According to Hindrikson et al., 2016:
THE MAIN THREATS TO WOLF POPULATIONS IN EUROPE
Europe in general
"Common threats to almost all wolf populations in Europe are overharvesting (including poaching), low public acceptance and conflicts due to livestock depredation (Table 4; Fig. 8), resulting most likely from a lack of knowledge and poor management structure, but also from livestock damage and deep fears of wolf attacks on humans and dogs. Interactions with domestic dogs leading to disease transfer and/or hybridization have also generated concern (Leonard et al., 2014). However, other threats, such as habitat destruction and large fluctuations in prey base, are also relevant to the majority of populations. Thus, various human-related factors are undoubtedly the main source of threats to wolf populations in Europe, and the generally negative human attitude toward wolves has been and remains the primary threat to wolf populations. Historically, even infectious diseases (e.g. rabies, sarcoptic mange) have not had such a devastating impact on wolf numbers as negative human attitudes, resulting in severe hunting pressure (legal and illegal), which inmany areas in Europe led to wolf eradication in the past and continues to threaten small endangered populations (e.g. in Sierra Morena).

Hunting, as well as other direct anthropogenic threats can have genetic consequences (Allendorf et al., 2008), especially for social species such as the wolf (e.g. Creel & Rotella, 2010; Ausband et al., 2015).

The most significant consequence is restriction to gene flow that can result in considerable genetic drift and inbreeding. Severe reduction or loss of population connectivity inside and among European wolf populations is the most challenging factor that requires strong measures, especially in areas where hunting pressure on wolves has been strong for some time (Kaczensky et al., 2013; Jansson et al., 2014; Chapron & Treves, 2016; Plumer et al., 2016). Wolf–dog hybridization is the second most common genetic-related threat in the majority of European wolf populations (Table 4). Hybridization has been shown to increase under strong anthropogenic pressure, especially at the population periphery and in areas with high human-caused mortality (Andersone et al., 2002; Vil`a et al., 2003b; Godinho et al., 2011; Hindrikson et al., 2012; Leonard et al., 2014). Another factor that can play an important role in wolf–dog hybridization is the disruption of social structure due to high hunting pressure (Valdmann et al., 2004; J ¸edrzejewski et al., 2005), that can potentialy increase the risk of hybridization. Moreover, introgression (following hybridization) can bring selective genetic changes by introducing maladapted genes into wild populations (Leonard et al., 2014).

Large carnivores can coexist with humans if a favourable management policy is applied (Linnell, Salvatori & Boitani, 2008; Treves et al., 2016), but their role as apex predators is reduced if they do not reach ecological functionality (Estes et al., 2011; Ordiz et al., 2013, and references therein). Nevertheless, there is a pressing need to mitigate conflicts in ways that are both effective and acceptable (Sillero-Zubiri & Laurenson, 2001).Two large international legislation systems currently direct wolfmanagement in Europe: the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Bern Convention), and Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (the Habitats Directive; Trouwborst, 2010). Although these international agreements seek to standardize conservation actions across Europe, both the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive have allowed countries to make national or local modifications to the status of wolves. However, the conservation actions taken to date have apparently not been sufficient to protect all wolf populations under threat, e.g. in the case of wolf populations in Sierra Morena (see Section V.2i).

To handle the threats and conservation/management issues in European wolf populations in a systematic manner, we first identify the main gaps in current knowledge and suggest solutions to overcome these limitations and then provide suggestions for efficient science-based wolf conservation and management in Europe."

Principal studies that i have consulted:
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Ersmark, Erik; Klütsch, Cornelya F. C.; Chan, Yvonne L.; Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S.; Fain, Steven R.; Illarionova, Natalia A.; Oskarsson, Mattias; Uhlén, Mathias; Zhang, Ya-Ping; Dalén, Love; Savolainen, Peter (2016). "From the Past to the Present: Wolf Phylogeography and Demographic History Based on the Mitochondrial Control Region". Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 4. doi:10.3389/fevo.2016.00134

Chapron G, Kaczensky P, Linnell JDC, von Arx M, Huber D, Andrén H. 2014 Recovery of large carnivores in Europe's modern human-dominated landscapes. Science 346, 1517–1519. doi:10.1126/science.1257553

Stronen AV, Jędrzejewska B, Pertoldi C, Demontis D, Randi E, Niedziałkowska M, et al. (2013) North-South Differentiation and a Region of High Diversity in European Wolves (Canis lupus). PLoS ONE 8(10): e76454. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076454

Pilot, M. G.; Branicki, W.; Jędrzejewski, W. O.; Goszczyński, J.; Jędrzejewska, B. A.; Dykyy, I.; Shkvyrya, M.; Tsingarska, E. (2010). "Phylogeographic history of grey wolves in Europe". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10: 104. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-104
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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1 - SCANDINAVIAN POPULATION 

"This population consists of about 460 individuals (90% in Sweden, the rest in Norway or in the border area between these countries; Svensson et al., 2015). Exterminated in the 1960s and naturally recolonized since the 1980s by immigrant wolves from Finland (Karelia) (Wabakken et al., 2001; Vil`a et al., 2003a), the Scandinavian population is growing and is currently distributed in the central part of Sweden and southeastern Norway. The population has been continuously monitored with genetic methods (Ellegren, Savolainen & Rosen, 1996; Ellegren, 1999; Flagstad et al., 2003; Vilà et al., 2003a,b; Seddon et al., 2005, 2006; Hagenblad et al., 2009). Particular attention has been paid to ongoing immigration from the neighbouring Finnish/Russian (Karelian) wolf population (Flagstad et al., 2003; Vilà et al., 2003a; Seddon et al., 2006), which was shown to coincide with episodes of marked population increase in Russian Karelia (Flagstad et al., 2003), and the identification of four immigrant wolves in northern Sweden in 2002–2005 from Finland (Seddon et al., 2006). The Scandinavian population has been investigated through a period of severe inbreeding depression [inbreeding coefficient (FIS) varied from 0 to 0.42 for wolves born in 1983–2002 in Liberg et al., 2005]; followed by a remarkable genetic recovery thanks to a single immigrant from an eastern (Karelian?) wolf population that brought new genetic material into the population (Vilà et al., 2003a); and through a further period of increasing inbreeding; until the recent immigration of four Finnish/Russian wolves between 2008 and 2013 that rescued the population once again (Akesson et al., 2016). FIS (hereafter referred to as the inbreeding coefficient) is often misleadingly used synonymously with inbreeding. Inbreeding (and resulting inbreeding depression) is a major conservation concern in several wolf populations. However, the parameter that frequently is reported as ‘inbreeding coefficient’, and often discussed with strong statements about inbreeding in a population (or lack of it), is Wright’s FIS (Wright, 1965).
This parameter is easily calculated using genetic data (which probably explains why it is so often reported), but will in most cases carry little information about inbreeding in a natural population. FIS measures departures from Hardy Weinberg expectations (HWE) in a population, and while it is positive in the case of assortative mating (which does lead to an increase of F), it will be zero in a single generation of random mating. When a population is small, even random mating can lead to matings between relatives, meaning that inbreeding in the population (i.e. F) can be high, but FIS will still be zero or even negative (Waples, 2015). On the other hand, there are common causes for departures from HWE (population substructure, gene flow, genotyping errors) which can increase FIS and cause serious misinterpretations of a population’s inbreeding if the biological meaning of FIS is not understood correctly. Herein we report inbreeding coefficients estimated in the referenced studies as well as their values, but attempt to avoid some of the biological (mis)interpretations."

The main threats 
"By 1966 wolves were functionally extinct on the Scandinavian Peninsula (Wabakken et al., 2001). Since their re-establishment in 1983, wolves in Scandinavia have been subject to long-term monitoring. Due to the very limited number of founders, major conservation issues in this population have been genetic-related: inbreeding depression, low genetic variability and low-level gene flow with other populations (Vilà et al., 2003a; Liberg et al., 2005; Bensch et al., 2006; Raikkonen et al., 2006).. Inbreeding has caused strong reductions in two fitness components: winter litter size (Liberg et al., 2005) and recruitment of individuals to breeding (Bensch et al., 2006). It has also led to a high proportion of congenital malformations in the backbone (Raikkonen et al., 2006). Poaching (Table 4; Fig. 8) has been another major threat, accounting for approximately half of the total mortality in Sweden with more than two-thirds of total poaching remaining undetected by conventional methods (Liberg et al., 2012). Norway culled some wolves in 2001, claiming the population had already spread too far. In 2010, Sweden licensed the hunting of wolves to keep the population down to 210 individuals, a temporary goal set by the country’s parliamentary decree which assumed continuous gene flow from neighbouring populations (although genetic data shows this to be an exceptional rather than a frequent event). The wolf hunt and its effect on conservation and management issues has been highly questioned in popular media and scientific journals (Laikre et al., 2013).The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has been critical, claiming that culling is against EU legislation as the Swedish wolf population had not reached a healthy status. The issue eventually reached the European Commission (EC): the Union biodiversity legislation requires all member states to follow ‘favourable conservation status’. As a result of the complaints, EC sent a reasoned opinion (in June 2015) requesting Sweden to amend its policy to protect the endangered wolf population in the country. This included the request for Sweden to bring wolf hunting into line with EU legislation, thus guaranteeing that the species reach favourable conservation status. A recent report suggests that a long-term goal for the Scandinavian wolf population should be 500 wolves (Kaczensky et al., 2013). Based on another report by commissioned expert statements, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency decided (in October 2015) that, given that the Scandinavian wolves are a part of a larger northeastern European population by gene flow (including a minimum of one effective immigrant per generation into the Scandinavian population), the Swedish population needs to consist of at least 300 wolves to be considered to have favourable conservation status."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Sweden. Credits to NaturResor Annelie Utter.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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2 - KARELIAN POPULATION

"The Karelian wolf population is shared between Finland and Russia and consists of 220–245 animals (Natural Resources Institute Finland, 2015). Clear signs of genetic bottlenecks have also been observed in the allele frequency distributions of this population (Jansson et al., 2014). Genetic structure and population processes, including admixture between wolves in the Finnish and Russian parts of the population have been investigated using microsatellites (Aspi et al., 2006, 2009; Jansson et al., 2012). Population size reduction together with the low level of gene flow from the Russian Karelian population (Aspi et al., 2006, 2009) led the Finnish Karelian part of the population into a demographic and genetic crash after 2006, with a significant decline in observed heterozygosity and an increase in inbreeding (Jansson et al., 2012). Compared to the historical Finnish wolf population, almost 20% of microsatellite alleles have not been found in the modern population (Jansson et al., 2014). Although the Karelian wolf population (including Russia) is often seen as a single large management unit, it may consist of smaller units (Aspi et al., 2009; Jansson et al., 2012)."

The main threats
"The primary threat to Finnish wolves is illegal killing. The current (Finnish) Karelian population is not only small in size, but also significantly more inbred than previously, and the observed heterozygosity is significantly lower than among wolves born at the end of the 1990s (Jansson et al., 2012).Additonally, gene flow between Russian Karelian and Finnish populations seems to be low (Aspi et al., 2009; Jansson et al.,2012). In order to maintain a genetically healthy and viable wolf population in the long term, the ultimate management goal is to facilitate gene flow between Finnish and Russian parts of the Karelian population (Jansson et al., 2014) and to decrease the hunting pressure. This goal is especially difficult to achieve in the reindeer husbandry area, which is very large (approximately half of Finland), where wolves are eliminated or driven away within days of arrival. The wolf became protected in Finland outside the reindeer husbandry area in 1973, but until 1995 it was listed as a normal game species, and the population was controlled by hunting (Bisi et al., 2007). Following EU membership in 1995, Finland had to tighten its own legislation concerning the conservation status of the wolf. According to the EC Habitats Directive the wolf is listed in Appendix IV (strictly protected) with an exception in the Finnish reindeer herding area, where the wolf is listed in Appendix V (hunting is possible). The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry annually grants a restricted number of licenses to kill wolves. The number of animals killed per year (including animals killed in car accidents) has ranged between 5 and 27 during 2000–2005 (Bisi et al., 2007). The Management Plan of the Wolf Population Finland in 2005 (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 11b/2005) recommended that Finland should have at least 20 breeding pairs. However, this goal was achieved (during the period 2005–2014) only in 2006, when there were 25 breeding pairs in Finland. A new management plan for wolves was accepted in Finland in 2015 and ‘population management’ hunting was part of this new plan. Accordingly, the Finnish Wildlife Agency licensed the hunting of 24 wolves in 2015 and an additional 10 wolves can be killed per year in cases of damage or close encounters. The rationale for ‘population management’ hunting has been hotly debated in Finland."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Finland. Credits to Villmarksfotografen Fotograf Tommy Solberg.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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3 - BALTIC POPULATION 

"The Baltic wolf population is distributed throughout Estonia (200–260), Latvia (200–400), Lithuania (∼300) and north-eastern Poland (270–360), comprising 900–1400 animals in total. As in other parts of Europe, the Baltic wolf population experienced near-extermination in the 1970s and 1980s (Jedrzejewski et al., 2005; Baltrunaite, Balciauskas & Akesson, 2013), leaving signs of genetic bottlenecks in wolves from Estonia, Latvia (Hindrikson et al., 2013; Plumer et al., 2016) and neighbouring Russia (Sastre et al., 2011). In general, the Baltic population exhibits relatively high levels of heterozygosity compared with many other European wolf populations (Jedrzejewski et al., 2005; Baltrunaite et al., 2013; Czarnomska et al., 2013; Hindrikson et al., 2013). Moreover, a cryptic genetic structuring has been found in the Estonian–Latvian part of this population (Hindrikson et al., 2013) and the authors proposed that the four genetic groups identified reflect recent population bottlenecks, severe hunting pressure and immigration. The Estonian population is expanding and has recently (in 2010–2011) recolonized the two largest islands of the country, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa (Plumer et al., 2016)."

The main threats
"Low public acceptance due to livestock depredation, especially in islands in western Estonia (Plumer et al., 2016), diseases and human-caused mortality, including illegal killing, are the biggest threats to the Baltic wolf population (Table 4; Figs 7 and 8). However, large infrastructure developments and fragmentation of suitable habitat by intensive forestry and an increase in agricultural land can also pose a significant threat. These problems are expected to remain, if not increase in the future, e.g. the forthcoming construction of Rail Baltic and new highways. Moreover, the new fence currently being built at the Estonian–Russian border will probably decrease gene flow between wolf populations in these countries, although complete isolation is unlikely as wolves can cross Lake Peipus during winter. Although gene flow occurs between Latvia and Estonia (Hindrikson et al., 2013), there is no information on the extent of gene flow for the whole Baltic population. Similarly, there is a lack of knowledge on gene flow with neighbouring populations. Hybridization with dogs has been identified in Latvia, Estonia and northern Poland (Andersone et al., 2002; Hindrikson et al., 2012; Stronen et al., 2013), but not in Lithuania (Baltrunaite et al., 2013). However, the rate of introgressive hybridization has not yet been determined; if high, it can pose a threat to wolf long-term adaptive potential (Table 4), or produce a different evolutionary trajectory, towards another kind of canid (possibly well adapted to modified landscapes) and away from the historial ecological role of wolves."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Tartumaa (Tartu County), Estonia. Credits to Sven Zacek.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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4 - CENTRAL EUROPEAN LOWLAND POPULATION

"The Central European Lowland population is mainly shared between Poland and Germany (each with >30 packs or 150–200 animals) (Reinhardt et al., 2015), with recent occurrences in Denmark (Andersen et al., 2015), Czech Republic and the Netherlands (Gravendeel et al., 2013), resulting in a total of 300–400 animals ranging over approximately 24000 km2. This population was formed in the late 1990s (Andersen et al., 2015), when a small number of wolves from north-eastern Poland (Czarnomska et al., 2013), recolonized the Lusatian border region between Germany and Poland. While the population is expanding steadily (Kaczensky et al., 2013), strong founder effects have likely resulted in genetic separation between this and the Baltic founder population, despite its close relatedness and evidence for gene flow (Czarnomska et al., 2013; Andersen et al., 2015)."

The main threats
"In the expanding Central European Lowland population the main threats are road mortality, high human population density and illegal killing. In western Poland the loss of any individual has been thought to influence the survival of the pack or interrupt colonization of adjacent areas (Jedrzejewski et al., 2008). Species distribution models have shown that human factors, especially road density and culling might limit the further spread of the species in Germany (Fechter & Storch, 2014) (Table 4). The connectivity of the Central European Lowland population with neighbouring populations is still weak and currently restricted to occasional gene flow from the Baltic population (Kaczensky et al., 2013). However, the population shows a continuous increase, suggesting that the carrying capacity has not been reached yet."

Source: 
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Germany. Credits to Jürgen Borris Naturfotografie.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 01-12-2017, 02:57 AM by Ngala )

5 - ITALIAN PENINSULAR POPULATION 

"This population is situated along the Apennine Mountains and consists of approximately 321 wolf packs, corresponding to 1212–1711 wolves (Galaverni et al., 2016). Wolves were extirpated from the Alps in the 1920s, and thereafter continued to decline in peninsular Italy until the 1970s, where approximately 100 individuals survived, isolated in two fragmented subpopulations in the central Apennines (Lucchini et al., 2004; Fabbri et al., 2007). Nowadays, the Italian wolf population has a nearly continuous distribution along the Apennines, although three genetic subpopulations (northern Apennines, Central Apennines and Southern Apennines; Fabbri et al., 2007) persist with limited gene flow (Scandura et al., 2011). The Italian wolf population (together with the Scandinavian population) is probably one of the most extensively microsatellite-genotyped wolf populations in Europe (Dolf et al., 2000; Lucchini et al., 2004; Fabbri et al., 2007, 2014; Scandura et al., 2011; Caniglia et al., 2014; Randi et al., 2014). It has been shown that wolves from peninsular Italy have distinct microsatellite allele frequencies that are highly differentiated from other wolf populations typed so far in Europe (Randi et al., 2000; Randi & Lucchini, 2002), except for the Alpine population (Fabbri et al., 2014) and wolves in the Pyrenees in France and Catalonia in Spain (Lampreave et al., 2011; Sastre, 2011), which was established with wolves from Italian origin."

Wolf from Abruzzo, Italy. From Nature Photo Blog, credits to Bruno D'Amicis Wildlife Photography.

*This image is copyright of its original author


6 - ALPINE POPULATION

"The Alpine wolf population comprises approximately 160 animals and is distributed in the Austrian, French, Italian and Swiss Alps. There are at least 116 animals in France, present in a minimum of 36 wolf permanent presence areas (ONCFS wolf winter survey 2014–2015), 57–89 animals in Italy (Galaverni et al., 2016), eight animals in Switzerland and 2–8 animals in Austria. The Western Alps in Italy, Switzerland and France (Lucchini et al., 2002; Valière et al., 2003; Fabbri et al., 2007, 2014) have been recolonized by Italian wolves, while the eastern and the central Alps are being colonized by wolves from both the Italian and Dinaric-Balkan populations (Fabbri et al., 2014; Razen et al., 2016). On the other hand, wolves from this population have expanded south-west, recently reaching the French Massif Central and the Pyrenees in 1999 and Catalonia in Spain in 2000, carrying a mtDNA haplotype unique to Italian wolves (W4 in Vil`a et al., 1997) (Valière et al., 2003; Lampreave et al., 2011; Sastre, 2011), although without evidence of reproductive success until now, as deduced from the continuous monitoring by the Catalan government."

Wolf from Maritime Alps Natural Park, Western Alps, Italy. From Life WolfAlps, credits to Michelangelo Giordano.

*This image is copyright of its original author


The main threats (including both Italian peninsular and Alpine population)
"The current wolf population expansion on the Italian peninsula is increasing the frequency of conflicts with humans, especially in areas where free-grazing on open pastures is widespread (Meriggi et al., 2011; Milanesi, Meriggi & Merli, 2012). Both Italian peninsular and Alpine populations face threats that are mainly related to low public acceptance, poor management structure, lack of knowledge, persecution and accidental mortality, among others (Table 4; Fig. 8). Of these, illegal killing through poisoning remains the most important cause of mortality (Marucco et al., 2009; Marucco & McIntire, 2010).Hybridization with dogs in areas of the central Apennines has also become a serious concern (Randi, 2008). The genetic diversity of these populations is one of the lowest in Europe (see Table 1) but there are signs of improved connectivity with other European populations: on one hand the Alpine population is incorporating animals from the Dinaric-Balkan population (Fabbri et al., 2014; Razen et al., 2016); on the other hand, wolves from the Alpine population have expanded south-west, recently reaching the French Massif Central, the Pyrenees and Catalonia in Spain (Valière et al., 2003; Lampreave et al., 2011; Sastre, 2011); however, since there were no wolves in this area, this expansion will not  contribute any genetic diversity to the Italian wolf population (see also Fig. 1). In general, administrative fragmentation and the obvious absence of any national authority responsible for wolf management can be considered as important threats that need to be urgently addressed through a renewed effort by the Ministry of Environment, the key agency coordinating the regional governments in implementing national and EU laws."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 01-15-2017, 04:12 AM by Ngala )

7 - CARPATHIAN POPULATION

"The Carpathian population inhabits a large area, including five countries, and consists of ∼3000 wolves (2300–2700 in Romania, 340–450 in Slovakia, 250–300 in Poland and a small number of individuals in the Czech Republic and Hungary). The population is largely continuous, although with smaller population fragments (for example in the eastern Czech Republic and Hungary) scattered in the border areas of the Carpathian population, representing remnants of a previously wider distribution (Boitani, 2000). The Carpathian Mountains represent one of the largest wolf refuge areas in Europe and are regarded as being of particolar importance for the long-term survival of the species in Europe because of their size and potential to serve as a link between northern and southern populations (Gula, Hausknecht & Kuehn, 2009). Genetic studies covering the Carpathian wolf population have largely focused on the northern part of the Carpathians in Poland, Slovakia and west Ukraine (Pilot et al., 2006, 2010; Czarnomska et al., 2013; Bakan et al., 2014). Both microsatellite and mtDNA data suggest that the Carpathian wolves are genetically distinct from the neighbouring lowland population (Pilot et al., 2006; Czarnomska et al., 2013) and also from the Dinaric-Balkan population (Bakan et al., 2014)."

The main threats
"In Poland, Slovakia and Romania the main problems are connected to livestock depredation (Kaczensky et al., 2013) (Table 4; Fig. 8). For example in Slovakia where depredation on livestock is commonplace, the current overlap of the wolf distribution range with areas devoted to sheep farming is ∼90% (Rigg, 2004). In some areas of the Carpathian population range, overhunting and poaching are the main threats (Kaczensky et al., 2013) (Figs 7 and 8). Nevertheless, the population range and wolf numbers have increate in Slovakia despite hunting during the last 70 years: for example, during the last 20 years the population range has increased by 10% (=1264 km2) (L. Paule, personal communication). There is a general lack of data on gene flow, impact of wolf hunting and hybridization in Ukraine on the number of wolves in neighbouring Poland, Slovakia and Romania."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Bieszczady National Park, Bieszczady Mountains, North Eastern Carpathians Mountains, Poland. From Canis lupus 101, credits to Grzegorz Leśniewski.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 01-15-2017, 10:35 PM by Ngala )

8 - DINARIC-BALKAN POPULATION

"The Dinaric-Balkan population consists of ∼3900 wolves in eight countries: Albania (200–250 individuals), Bulgaria (700–800), Bosnia and Herzegovina (650), Croatia (168–219), Greece (700), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (466), Serbia (750–850) and Slovenia (32–43) (Chapron et al., 2014). From Slovenia to northern Greece, the wolf range shows substantial continuity along the Dinaric and Balkan Mountains (Musiani et al., 2009; Gomercic et al., 2010), and Bakan et al. (2014) also identified gene flow between Serbia and Bulgaria (Fig. 1; see Appendix S2). Of all European wolf populations, this one spans the largest number of national borders, and is consequently subject to the most diverse array of monitoring and management approaches (Kaczensky et al., 2013). Bulgarian (Lucchini et al., 2004; Bakan et al., 2014; Moura et al., 2014; Pilot et al., 2014a), Greek (Moura et al., 2014), Serbian (Bakan et al., 2014), Croatian (Gomercic et al., 2010) and Slovenian (Majic-Skrbinsek, 2014) wolves have been studied with microsatellite markers (Appendix S1). Both Bulgarian and Croatian wolves are in the process of recovering from severe bottlenecks that started in the 19th century and lasted up to the 1970s–1980s (Gomercic et al., 2010; Moura et al., 2014). The Dinaric-Balkan wolf population is a valuable source of genetic diversity for neighbouring populations, as indicated by ongoing recolonization of the eastern and central Alps by Dinaric-Balkan wolves (Fabbri et al., 2014; Razen et al., 2016), and by the considerable level of gene flow between the Caucasus and the Balkans (Bulgaria) through intermediary populations (Pilot et al., 2014a). The population, however, shows genetic substructuring already at relatively local scales (Fabbri et al., 2014), indicating the need for further research to understand its internal genetic and demographic connectivity and delineate conservation and management units."
 
The main threats
"In general, low acceptance (for example in Bulgaria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) due to pressure on wild ungulate populations and therefore conflicts with hunters (mainly in Greece and Bulgaria) or farmers (livestock conflicts in Bulgaria and Slovenia) are common causes for human persecution (Kaczensky et al., 2013) (Table 4; Figs 7 and 8). In several countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) the main threats are limited knowledge on the ecology and population trends of wolves, and poor management structure (Kaczensky et al., 2013) (Table 4; Fig. 8). The population appears to be more or less continuous throughout the Dinaric-Balkan range and is one of the genetically most diverse in Europe (Table 1), having connections with the Alpine (Fabbri et al., 2014) population (Fig. 1). In general, there is a need to clarify the distribution and population sub-structuring within this large population. In some countries such as Albania, Greece and Southern Croatia (Dalmatia), hybridization with dogs might pose a potential risk (Kaczensky et al., 2013; Stronen et al., 2013; Majic-Skrbinsek, 2014). In Bulgaria, a recent genetic study found hybridization of wolves with domestic dogs and possibly also with golden jackals (Moura et al., 2014), while in Greece, an animal with dog ancestry was identified (Stronen et al., 2013)."

Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

Wolf from Eastern Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria. From Neophron Tours, credits to Haim Israeli.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 01-13-2018, 05:46 AM by Ngala )

9 - NORTH-WEST IBERIAN POPULATION

"The North-west Iberian population is shared by Spain and Portugal. The population comprises 63 packs in Portugal (Alvares et al., 2005) and 297 wolf packs in Spain distributed over 91620 km2 [MAGRAMA (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment), 2016]. In a previous census, Blanco, Cuesta & Reig (1990) estimated 294 packs occupying a range of 100000 km2. This population ranges across the north-western region of the Iberian Peninsula and in a small isolated subpopulation south of river Douro in Central Portugal (Alvares, 2004; Blanco, Cortés & Virgos, 2005; MAGRAMA, 2016). At the beginning of the 20th century, Iberian wolves were distributed throughout the peninsula (Rico & Torrente, 2000). However, as in other European wolf populations, in the middle of the 20th century, the Iberian population disappeared from most of its former range and was reduced to an all-time low in the 1970s (Valverde, 1971; Grande del Brío, 1984; Blanco et al., 1990). As a consequence of a severe demographic bottleneck in the 20th century, genetic studies have revealed a low effective population size (NE =43.2–53.8 in Sastre et al., 2011) and the inbreeding coefficient has varied in this population from 0.153 (Ramirez et al., 2006) to 0.177 (Sastre et al., 2011)."

The main threats
"This wolf population is considered by the IUCN as ‘Near Threatened (NT)’ because of the fragmentation in management regimes, the lack of a population-level management plan and the occurrence of largely unpredictable events (human reactions against wolves) that may threaten the population at the local level (IUCN, 2007). In fact, the lack of coordination between authorities in the two countries, together with the separation between science and management (Fernàndez-Gil et al., 2016), the lack of non-standardized census methods, particularly overestimating wolf pack size (Blanco & Cort´es, 2009) and unreliable breeding wolf pack estimations in several regions are considered critical issues for the NW Iberian population, given the fact that wolves are exposed to hunting or to regional administration culls (Echegaray & Vila', 2010; Fernàndez-Gil et al., 2016), except in Portugal, where they are fully protected (Pimenta et al., 2005; Kaczensky et al., 2013). Additionally, genetic assessement is not considered for management planning (but see Godinho et al., 2015)."

10 - SIERRA-MORENA POPULATION

The main threats


Source
Hindrikson, M., Remm, J., Pilot, M., Godinho, R., Stronen, A. V., Baltrūnaité, L., Czarnomska, S. D., Leonard, J. A., Randi, E., Nowak, C., Åkesson, M., López-Bao, J. V., Álvares, F., Llaneza, L., Echegaray, J., Vilà, C., Ozolins, J., Rungis, D., Aspi, J., Paule, L., Skrbinšek, T. and Saarma, U. (2016), Wolf population genetics in Europe: a systematic review, meta-analysis and suggestions for conservation and management. Biol Rev. doi:10.1111/brv.12298

In elaboration.
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Reserved for future use.
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#11

Wolf from Finland. July 2012.

Photo and information credits: Jayanth Sharma
Once widespread across the landscapes of Europe and Asia, the Eurasian Wolf was thriving until the 18th century. Largely perceived as a threat to livestock, children and pets, Wolves were hunted systematically over the centuries. 
Finland is a landscape with over 60% of forests with over 60,000 Lakes and has always been a country obsessed with hunting.
Today less than 200 Wolves seem to be living in Finland and most of them are bordering Russia who seem to transit between the two countries and in areas like the "No Mans Land".
While I was sure of the Brown Bear encounters here in Europe, I was desperate to come across the elusive / skittish and ghostly Wolf! In the earlier part of my trip, I concentrated on Bears and cubs which I got in plenty, but in the latter part of the expedition, I travelled closer to the Russian border in the No Mans Land and spent a few days looking for Wolves here. Finally on the last night in the No Mans Land at around 11 in the night, I saw a distant blur appear on the end of the forest and this photograph was taken before the Wolf came as close as 75 meters from where I was hiding! 

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 02-01-2017, 05:21 AM by peter )

Good work, Ngala! Much appreciated.

Yesterday, the national broadcasting company said Germany now has about 500 wolves. Some of them visited The Netherlands (west of Germany), but the conditions to make a living over here are very limited.

This photograph was taken in the extreme east of The Netherlands. The droppings confirmed it was a wolf:


*This image is copyright of its original author


Video of a wolf on a public road in an industrial area in the exteme northeastern part of The Netherlands:

http://nos.nl/artikel/2024097-wolf-lijkt-terug-in-duitsland.html
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Some wolves in Europa don't stay within a determined territory but are able to travel through the continent to find some new areas where they could live.
I saw a documentary about a wolf born in Italia, crossing the Austria and Germany and, finally, staying in Poland. Doing this, they are reconquering a continent, that is admirable when we consider the human population density now...
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( This post was last modified: 02-01-2017, 04:45 PM by Ngala )

The wolves have naturally recolonized the areas that in origin they inhabited, but not all countries are ready to manage the wolves. 

In Italy, the wolf in the Alps was extirpated between years 1920-1940, also the Lynx (declared extinct in Italy since 1920). In years 1960-1970, the wolves from the Apennines count 100-110 specimens, the lowest number ever recorded. In Sicily was extirpated. For many decades he has been isolated southern the river Po.

Years and years of legal protection, the wolf have recolonized the land which once inhabited. They expanded their territory from the Apennines to the Western Alps, to arrive in Central and Eastern Alps, and also conquered Southern France and the Catalonia in North Eastern Spain, once inhabited by the Spanish wolves, then extirpated.

There is been a naturally re conjunction of the wolf from Western Alps (Alpine population), and a male wolf named "Slavc" from Slovenija (Dinaric-Balkan population), and they are established in Lessinia area.

Now, the wolves in Italy are in danger again. In the next days the government discuss a plan to reduce the population, thus legalizing a limited cull, after 46 years of protection.

See this news (i written in the thread Animal News (Except Bigcats)):
Wolves shot and mutilated as Italy considers bringing back a cull after more than 40 years of protecting the predator
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 02-18-2017, 05:17 PM by peter )

WOLF KILLED IN BELO-RUSSIA (graphic)

I found this article a few days ago on the site of the national broadcasting company of The Netherlands (the NOS). The title of the article ('One wolf nearly earns this hunter from Belo-Russia a months' salary') strongly suggests that the hunter is in it for the money, but that's isn't quite true. He has a job and only hunts wolves in winter. Farmers hire him, because wolves kill domestic animals at times. Every wolf pays 75 euros.

In that part of Europe (close to the border between Belo-Russia and Ukraine), wolves can be dangerous for humans as well. They have been killed by wolves in the Baltic countries and I'm not only referring to incidents that happened a century ago. For orientation, go to the map in the first post of this thread.

It's not that far from Tjernobyl, where a nuclear reactor exploded in the eighties of the last century. It's still a no-go area. The result is animals prosper.

The photographs are brutal: 

http://nos.nl/artikel/2158552-in-beeld-een-wolf-levert-wit-russische-jager-bijna-een-maandsalaris-op.html
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