Diet reconstruction of wolves following a decline in Manitoba moose populations

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Mocker, Danielle
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Moose populations in southern Manitoba have declined. Although the primary cause of this decline is unclear, wolf predation is considered a main contributor because wolves have limited moose populations elsewhere. To help understand the role of wolf predation in limiting moose populations we reconstructed the proportional diet of wolves using stable isotope analysis and a Bayesian stable isotope mixing model (MixSIAR). We tested the assumptions of MixSIAR by running sensitivity analyses on trophic discrimination and prior information. We observed differences in wolf diet in areas where moose and deer coexist and are spatially separated, with changes both seasonally and annually. Our results suggest white-tailed deer were preyed on during winter, even in areas where deer are locally rare, suggesting prey catchability is more important than local prey density. Seasonal changes in prey accessibility strongly affect wolf predation rates, and manipulating alternative prey populations could mitigate predation impacts on moose.
Stable isotope analysis, Wolf, Moose, Predator-prey, Diet, MixSIAR, White-tailed deer, Apparent competition, Prey limitation, Bayesian stable isotope model