Heather McPhee

Kill site selection and attack rates of wolves in heterogeneous environments in west central Alberta

I presented new approaches to evaluate sources of variation in two aspects of predation: where wolves killed prey and how long they took to kill prey. I treated predation as hierarchical by evaluating where six GPS-collared wolves killed prey within hunt paths, and used time-to-event modelling to evaluate attack rates, measured as the time-to-kill. Wolves selected to hunt based on prey abundance, which reduced the influence of prey density on where wolves killed and the timeto-kill. Landscape characteristics affecting prey predictability, detection, and vulnerability influenced where prey were killed; both search rates and these landscape factors influenced attack rates. Wolves avoided killing near landscape features associated with high human activities, which increased the time-to-kill when wolves hunted near these areas. Evaluating sources of variation in wolfprey interactions across space will lead to a greater understanding of the role of predators on prey populations in spatially heterogeneous systems.