The Abundance and Distribution of Wolverines in British Columbia, Canada



ABSTRACT  The abundance and distribution of carnivores and their habitat are key information needed for status assessment, conservation planning, population management, and assessment of the effects of human development on their habitat and populations. We developed a habitat quality rating system, using existing wolverine (Gulo gulo) distribution, wolverine food, ecosystem mapping, and human development data. We used this and empirically derived estimates of wolverine density to predict wolverine distribution and abundance at a provincial scale. Density estimates for wolverines in high-quality habitat averaged 6.2 wolverines/1,000 km2 (95% CI = 4.2–9.5). We predicted mean densities ranging from 0.3/1,000 km2 in rare-quality habitat to 4.1/1,000 km2 in moderate-quality habitat. Our predicted population estimate for wolverines in British Columbia was 3,530 (95% CI = 2,700-4,760). We predicted highest densities of wolverines in interior mountainous regions, moderate densities in interior plateau and boreal forest regions, and low densities in mainland coastal regions and drier interior plateaus. We predicted that wolverines would be rare on Vancouver Island, along the outer mainland coast, and in the dry interior forests, and absent from the Queen Charlotte Islands, interior grassland environments, and areas of intensive urban development.