Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Human-carnivore coexistence: Arabian wolves spatially favor but temporally avoid humans in an extremely arid landscape (#193)

Adi Barocas 1 , Reuven Hefner 2 , Michal Ucko 3 , Jerod A Merkle 1 , Eli Geffen 4
  1. Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA
  2. Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Beer Sheva, Israel
  3. Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, Haifa, Israel
  4. Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Global increases in anthropogenic activity have had considerable effects on the abundance and persistence of many species. Because of direct interactions and livestock depredation, large carnivores have a disproportionally high risk of conflict with humans. Current evidence suggests that the survival, abundance, and persistence of these species are negatively affected by human activity. Thus, large carnivores are predicted to spatially avoid human-dominated areas. Yet, as the global human footprint grows, it is crucial to understand the circumstances when large carnivores can persist in human proximity. Using GPS location data, we quantified the space use and movement of protected Arabian wolves (Canis lupus arabs) in the arid Negev desert (Israel). Contrary to the spatial avoidance prediction, wolves spent a large proportion of their time in proximity of human infrastructure, suggesting a strong spatial association with human activity. Wolves showed temporal avoidance of human activity by increasing activity and movement during the night. In addition, during night, wolves used space in proximity of human infrastructure in proportion to its availability. Combined with recent diet analyses, our findings suggest that wolves nutritionally rely on human subsidies such as garbage and agricultural produce. Given the scarcity of ungulate prey resources in the surrounding landscape, wolves appeared to fine-tune their movement and space use to persist in the vicinity of humans. We conclude that legal protection and tolerance by humans can promote close spatial coexistence with large carnivore populations. Our findings may also provide a glimpse into the process of dog domestication.