Autecological Report on Canis Lupus

Autecological Report on Canis Lupus

Classification of the Canis Lupus

Kingdom:                    Animalia

Subkingdom:               Metazoa

Phylum:                       Chordate

Subphylum:                 Vertebrata

Superclass:                  Tetrapoda

Class:                           Mammalia

Subclass:                     Theria

Infraclass:                    Eutheria

Cohort:                        Ferungulata

Superorder:                 Ferae

Order:                          Carnivore

Suborder:                    Fissipeda

Superfamily:                Canoidea

Family:                        Canidae

Subfamily:                   Caninae

Tribe:                           None for this group

Genus:                                     Canis

Subgenus:                    None for this group

Species:                       Canis lupus

Geographic Distribution and Status

The grey wolf has one of the widest distributions of all mammals on the planet. At some point, due to the versatility and adaptability of the grey wolf, it has historically been regarded as the world’s most widely distributed land mammal. It ranged all though much of Eurasia, the northern hemisphere, from Mexicothrough North America to the Arctic regions, as far south as Southern India(National Geographic, 2014). However, presently, the grey wolf has a more restricted dispersal, limited in the wilderness and remote areas of Asia, Canada, Northern USA, Alaska and Europe.It is completely extinct in parts of the United States, Mexico and Western Europe (Wildscreen Arkive, 2014).

Economic Value

Positive Economic Importance for Humans

Throughout history, the grey wolf’s fur has been harvested for its warmth and fluffiness. In such countries as the former Soviet, Canada, Mongolia and Alaska, there has been sustainable utilisation of the grey wolf fur. Additionally, the grey wolf as a top predator in most ecosystems, they serve an important role in controlling populations of their prey(Dewey & Smith, 2002).

Another economic importance of the wolf stems from what they embody. In many cultures, the grey wolf plays an important cultural role; many people perceive them to symbolise the spirit of wilderness. Also, products related to wolves, such as t-shirt and books are very popular. Additionally, wolf ecotourism has been a major source of revenue for reserves and packs.

Negative Economic Importance for Humans

The grey wolf predominant negative economic importance arises when they encroach into human habitats and predate on livestock (Dewey & Smith, 2002). However, the extent of livestock loss to grey wolves is more often overstated. The grey wolf normally prefers their wild prey.

Habitat and Common Associates

The grey wolf can live in a wide range of habitats. This can range from the prairie and forest to the arctic tundra. The only requirement is the presence of adequate prey. That is, habitats where there is suitable food, density being highest where prey biomasses is highest. However, they usually are absent in habitats such as desert floors, tropical forests and high mountains (DesertUSA, 2014).

Morphology and Anatomy

In general appearance, the grey wolf resembles a large domestic dog, but withlengthierlegs, broader feet, a slendererchest and a straight tail. The grey wolf has a large blocky face and muzzle, and shorter rounded ears (Allen, 2013).

The fur is very thick, boosting of an outer layer made of coarse guard hairs, beneathwhich a there is a soft undercoat. The coat usually goes through an annual moult in late spring, with a short coat growing during summer, and continues to develop into a winter cost during autumn and winter. The fur’s most common shade is grey flecked with black with lighter underparts, however, in some populations, red, black, brown and almost pure white have been reported. The grey wolf has very sensitive ears and nose which helps it in tracking down prey, while its strong long legs allow it undertake high-speed, and lengthy pursuits  (Wildscreen Arkive, 2014).

Size and Weight

The variability in size by weight in adult wolves range from 40 kg to 75 kg on the average, with the northern wolves weighing as much as 80 kg and the Arabian wolf weighing around 20 kg(Hatcher & Battey, 2011).They are large, approximately 2ft 6ins (76 cm) tall at the shoulder and 6ft (1.8 m) in length (Allen, 2013).

Population Density and Territoriality

Grey wolves normally live in packs, led by a pack-leader referred to as an “alpha pair”. Astandard pack is usually made up of the offsprings of the alpha pair and may also comprise of some unrelated wolves. A single pack’s territory can be as large as 13,000 square km. the ownership of a particular territory is usually established through howling which communicates who owns a territory(National Geographic, 2014).


Food for the grey wolf is extremely variable, but the majority comprises large ungulates such as caribou, wild boar, moose, deer and elk. The main prey of the wolf in north America is the deer family, American bison, musk oxen, mountain sheep, and beavers.When natural prey is scarce or husbandry is deficient, the grey wolf preys on domesticated livestock (Haraway & Greenberg, 1998).Wolves also eat smaller prey items, carrion and garbage(Boitani & Mech, 2010). They usually hunt in packs (Allen, 2013). Pack sizes vary from a pair to perhaps 15 individual wolves. The size of the prey affects pack size; therefore larger packs are not uncommon.Adult wolves eat an average of five and a half to thirteen pounds of food a day.

The grey wolf can run an average speed of about 25mph over a distance of several miles. They are capable of hitting 35-to-40 mph speeds in shorter bursts, however, such as when pursuing prey(Boitani & Mech, 2010).

Enemies and Defences

The lifespan of a wolf can range from 9 to 14 years. The original worldwide range of the grey wolf has been reduced to about two-thirds, primarily in the developed regions of the United States, Asia, Europe and Mexico. This has either been as a result of either poisoning or deliberate persecution due to depredation on domestic livestock(National Geographic, 2014). However, beginning the 1970s, deliberate effort such as legal protection, rural human population to cities and land-use changes have arrested decreases in wolf population and promoted natural recolonization in parts of Western Europe, the United States, and reintroduction in the eastern United States.

Continued threats include: exaggerated concern by the public with regards to the threat and danger associated with wolves; competition with humans for livestock, particularly in developing countries; and division of their natural habitat, with the resultant areas becoming too small for populations with long-term viability(Dewey & Smith, 2002).

Longevity andMain Mortality Factors

The grey wolf mortality is predominantly caused by a myriad of factors, both non-human and human-related(Fuller, 1989). The major non-human-related factors range from deaths from engagements with other wolves, starvation, especially puppies, and lastly diseases such as canine parvovirus and mange (Kreeger 2003). Wounds obtained from prey animals can also form limiting factors. The human-related causes of grey wolf deaths include legal depredation, accidental causes, and illegal poaching (Fuller, 1989).

Life Cycle

The grey wolf breeding season takes place between January and April of every year and two months later, the female wolf gives bath to a litter off between 1 to 11 puppies. The puppies are weaned for 5weeks; however they reach sexual maturity after 2 years  (DesertUSA, 2014). Wolves normally dig burrows, or use crevices, clumps of dense vegetation or hollow logs as den sites where they give birth and rear their young.

Conservation Status

Widely regarded a pest because of its tendency to prey on livestock, the grey wolf has been poisoned, trapped, and hunted out of most of its natural range. It has been federally categorized as protected specie in some of the areas which it still has a population. On the IUCN Red List, the grey wolf has been classified as a least concern (LC) (University of Georgia, 2014).

As a result of the large disparity in the status of the grey wolf in different parts of its range, conservation action and protection is highly spread. In Alaska and Canada, the grey wolf is subject to regulated harvesting, in many European countries, Mexico and, The USA, the grey wolf is protected, with captive breeding and reintroduction efforts being undertaken. In Pakistan, china and India, the grey wolf enjoys protection status, although it lacks enforcement.  In nations such as the Middle East, Russia and central Asia, the grey wolf has no legal protection. Nevertheless, improved enforcement of pre-existing protection areas, and conservation efforts targeting declining populations of the grey wolf are beneficial(Wildscreen Arkive, 2014).

Dispersal and migration

With regards to the migratory characteristics of the grey wolf, it is not migratory but may migrate seasonally following migrating ungulates within its territory. The grey wolf disperses widely. Males have been reported to move an average of 113 kilometres (70 miles) from their natal territory. Females, on the other hand, can average 77 kilometres (48 miles) prior to establishing new territories or joining a new pack (Boyd and Pletscher 1999).

The dispersal of the grey wolf peaks twice every year. The first season being January/February period, the second being May/June. Some grey wolves have been known to have dispersed up to 805 kilometres (500 miles(Montana Field Guide, 2014).


In a grey wolf pack, only the dominant pair in the pack can breed. This pair is however monogamous, but upon the death of an alpha male or female, another member of the pack will emerge and take over as the mate.Breeding occurs during the months of January and April. A female grey wolf chooses her mate and often forms a life-long pair bond(National Geographic, 2014). The wolf pair spends a great deal of time together. Female grey wolves come into estrus once every year and lasts 5 to 14 days, and it is during this time that mating occurs.  The gestation period lasts between 60 and 63 days, and a litter size will range from one to fourteen puppies, with the average size being between six and seven pups(Dewey & Smith, 2002). After mating, the female wolf digs a den in which to raise her young puppies. After birth, the pups remain in the dens for between 8 to 10 weeks.

The pups are cared for by all the pack members. Until they are 45 days old, the pups are fed regurgitated food by all the members of the pack, thereafter, they are fed meat provided by members of the pack. Female pups reach maturity at the age of two, while the males reach maturity at the age of three years (Dewey & Smith, 2002). Most grey wolves disperse from their natal pack the moment they are between 1 and 3 years.



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