Wolverine Conservation and Management

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Abstract

ABSTRACT  This Special Section includes 8 peer-reviewed papers on the wolverine (Gulo gulo) in southern North America. These papers provide new information on current and historical distribution, habitat relations at multiple spatial scales, and interactions with humans. In aggregate, these papers substantially increase our knowledge of wolverine ecology and population dynamics in North America, in many cases replacing previous speculations and informed judgments with empirical information. North American wolverines occur primarily in tundra, taiga, and subalpine environments. These environments become increasingly fragmented at southern latitudes, where wolverine populations occur at low densities and are potentially vulnerable to human-caused mortality. The combination of highly fragmented habitat, demographic sensitivity to adult mortality, and low population densities make local wolverine populations difficult to monitor and easy to overharvest. Where populations are fragmented, persistence is critically dependent on dispersal between habitat islands. Although dispersal dynamics are poorly understood, high levels of genetic structure observed in both current and historical populations indicate that dispersal between mountain ranges is limited. Wolverine biology remains poorly understood, and many fundamental issues need additional research.

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