Surgical sterilization of free-ranging wolves.
The objective of the study was to determine whether surgical sterilization of both males and females in wolf pairs alters basic wolf social and territorial behaviors. Wolves were located from the air by snow-tracking methods and were tranquilizer-darted from a helicopter. Surgeries were performed either in a tent at the capture site or in a heated building in a nearby village. Six vasectomies and seven uterine horn ligations were performed in January and February of 1996 and 1997. Two females died: one likely related to the capture procedure, the other of a peritonitis unrelated to the surgery. One wolf had a litter. None of the wolves have shown changes in behavioral patterns. Surgical sterilization can be effective, but other, less invasive, fertility control techniques should be investigated. (+info)
MRI examination of the masticatory muscles in the gray wolf (Canis lupus), with special reference to the M. temporalis.
We examined the head of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) using MRI methods. Although the arising surface of the M. temporalis was not so enlarged in the frontal bone, the small frontal bone did not disturb the M. temporalis from occupying the lateral space of the frontal area in the gray wolf as in the domesticated dog. In the gray wolf, it is suggested that the M. temporalis may not be well-developed in terms of size of arising area, but in the thickness of running bundles. We suggest that the dog has changed the three-dimensional plan of the M. temporalis during the domestication and that the M. temporalis has developed a large arising surface in the frontal bone and lost the thickness of belly in the frontal area in accordance with the enlargement of the frontal bone and the increase in brain size. (+info)
Anthropogenic extinction of top carnivores and interspecific animal behaviour: implications of the rapid decoupling of a web involving wolves, bears, moose and ravens.
The recent extinction of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and wolves (Canis lupus) by humans from 95-99% of the contiguous USA and Mexico in less than 100 years has resulted in dramatically altered and expanded prey communities. Such rampant ecological change and putative ecological instability has not occurred in North American northern boreal zones. This geographical variation in the loss of large carnivores as a consequence of anthropogenic disturbance offers opportunities for examining the potential consequences of extinction on subtle but important ecological patterns involving behaviour and interspecific ecological interactions. In Alaska, where scavengers and large carnivores are associated with carcasses, field experiments involving sound playback simulations have demonstrated that at least one prey species, moose (Alces alces), is sensitive to the vocalizations of ravens (Corvus corax) and may rely on their cues to avoid predation. However, a similar relationship is absent on a predator-free island in Alaska's Cook Inlet and at two sites in the Jackson Hole region of the Rocky Mountains (USA) where grizzly bears and wolves have been extinct for 50-70 years. While prior study of birds and mammals has demonstrated that prey may retain predator recognition capabilities for thousands of years even after predation as a selective force has been relaxed, the results presented here establish that a desensitization in interspecific responsiveness can also occur in less than ten generations. These results affirm (i) a rapid decoupling in behaviour involving prey and scavengers as a consequence of anthropogenic-caused predator-prey disequilibriums, and (ii) subtle, community-level modifications in terrestrial ecosystems where large carnivores no longer exist. If knowledge about ecological and behavioural processes in extant systems is to be enhanced, the potential effects of recently extinct carnivores must be incorporated into current programmes. (+info)
mtDNA tandem repeats in domestic dogs and wolves: mutation mechanism studied by analysis of the sequence of imperfect repeats.
The mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region (CR) of dogs and wolves contains an array of imperfect 10 bp tandem repeats. This region was studied for 14 domestic dogs representing the four major phylogenetic groups of nonrepetitive CR and for 5 wolves. Three repeat types were found among these individuals, distributed so that different sequences of the repeat types were formed in different molecules. This enabled a detailed study of the arrays and of the mutation events that they undergo. Extensive heteroplasmy was observed in all individuals; 85 different array types were found in one individual, and the total number of types was estimated at 384. Among unrelated individuals, no identical molecules were found, indicating a high rate of evolution of the region. By performing a pedigree analysis, array types which had been inherited from mother to offspring and array types which were the result of somatic mutations, respectively, could be identified, showing that about 20% of the molecules within an individual had somatic mutations. By direct pairwise comparison of the mutated and the original array types, the physiognomy of the inserted or deleted elements (indels) and the approximate positions of the mutations could be determined. All mutations could be explained by replication slippage or point mutations. The majority of the indels were 1-5 repeats long, but deletions of up to 17 repeats were found. Mutations were found in all parts of the arrays, but at a higher frequency in the 5' end. Furthermore, the inherited array types within the mother-offspring pair were aligned and compared so that germ line mutations could be studied. The pattern of the germ line mutations was approximately the same as that of the somatic mutations. (+info)
Recolonizing carnivores and naive prey: conservation lessons from Pleistocene extinctions.
The current extinction of many of Earth's large terrestrial carnivores has left some extant prey species lacking knowledge about contemporary predators, a situation roughly parallel to that 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, when naive animals first encountered colonizing human hunters. Along present-day carnivore recolonization fronts, brown (also called grizzly) bears killed predator-naive adult moose at disproportionately high rates in Scandinavia, and moose mothers who lost juveniles to recolonizing wolves in North America's Yellowstone region developed hypersensitivity to wolf howls. Although prey that had been unfamiliar with dangerous predators for as few as 50 to 130 years were highly vulnerable to initial encounters, behavioral adjustments to reduce predation transpired within a single generation. The fact that at least one prey species quickly learns to be wary of restored carnivores should negate fears about localized prey extinction. (+info)
Analysis of canine parvovirus sequences from wolves and dogs isolated in Italy.
The VP2 genes of Italian canine parvovirus (CPV) type 2 strains isolated from dogs and wolves were sequenced and a three-dimensional model of the VP2 capsid protein was constructed. Two mutations were detected in the VP2 sequences of the Italian strains: one at residue 297 and one at residue 265. Variant 297 is the predominant CPV isolate in Europe, whereas variant 265 has never been detected before. The mutation at residue 265 causes a disruption in a G strand of the beta-barrel in the VP2 protein. Data on strains isolated from wolves demonstrated that the same strain of CPV can circulate among domestic and wild canids; therefore, this result leads us to exclude the possibility that a separate parvovirus pool exists in wild populations. (+info)
Pervasive influence of large-scale climate in the dynamics of a terrestrial vertebrate community.
BACKGROUND: Large-scale climatic variability has been implicated in the population dynamics of many vertebrates throughout the Northern Hemisphere, but has not been demonstrated to directly influence dynamics at multiple trophic levels of any single system. Using data from Isle Royale, USA, comprising time series on the long-term dynamics at three trophic levels (wolves, moose, and balsam fir), we analyzed the relative contributions of density dependence, inter-specific interactions, and climate to the dynamics of each level of the community. RESULTS: Despite differences in dynamic complexity among the predator, herbivore, and vegetation levels, large-scale climatic variability influenced dynamics directly at all three levels. The strength of the climatic influence on dynamics was, however, strongest at the top and bottom trophic levels, where density dependence was weakest. CONCLUSIONS: Because of the conflicting influences of environmental variability and intrinsic processes on population stability, a direct influence of climate on the dynamics at all three levels suggests that climate change may alter stability of this community. Theoretical considerations suggest that if it does, such alteration is most likely to result from changes in stability at the top or bottom trophic levels, where the influence of climate was strongest. (+info)
Characterization of three microsatellite loci linked to the canine RP3 interval.
X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) is one of the most prevalent forms of a genetically heterogeneous group of inherited retinal disorders of man; more than 70% of XLRP families map to the RP2 or RP3 loci on the human X chromosome. Canine X-linked progressive retinal atrophy (XLPRA), observed in the Siberian husky, is the locus homologue of human RP3, but the gene responsible for XLPRA has not yet been identified. To develop polymorphic markers in the RP3 interval in dogs we have isolated microsatellites from canine BAC clones. Three tightly linked microsatellite loci, CUX20001, CUX30001, and CUX40002, have been investigated in 17 dog breeds or breed varieties. Calculated parameters of variability correspond with the number of repeats at each locus. Pedigree analyses showed tight linkage between the canine t-complex-associated testis-expressed 1-like gene (TCTE1l) and the gene ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OTC). Each microsatellite shows conservation within Canidae, and CUX20001 also amplified in Mustelidae and URSIDAE: These markers represent an important tool in the fine mapping process for the canine region homologous to the RP3 disease interval and are valuable for evaluation of conservation and homology of this region among related species. (+info)