The wolf is naturally recolonizing the Alpine range. Potentially, eight different countries are affected, clearly calling for transboundary management planning. In this framework, using the partitioned Mahalanobis distance, and considering environmental, anthropogenic, and biotic variables, we produced a model of the potential distribution of the wolf over the Alpine range, accounting for the ecological characteristics of the species and for the lack of equilibrium in the current distribution. Low human population density, increasing distance from infrastructures, intermediate elevations and high prey-species richness were the most important factors in predicting wolf presence, followed by the presence of natural land-covers. Based on the projections of our model, we predicted a large availability of high suitability areas across the entire alpine range, which promises great potential for wolf range expansion in the near future. Moreover, protected areas cover 47% of the high suitability areas, and many may act in the future as source habitat patches across the entire alpine region. Our model provides a useful planning tool to develop, evaluate and implement transboundary conservation and management interventions at a broad, biologically meaningful scale across the entire Alpine range. By depicting the potential species distribution in the Alps, our model will aid regional and local managers to design proactive approaches to wolf conservation, especially in areas that have not yet been colonized by the species. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Modeling the potential distribution for a range-expanding species: Wolf recolonization of the Alpine range / Falcucci, Alessandra; Maiorano, Luigi; Tempio, Giuseppe; Boitani, Luigi; Ciucci, Paolo. - In: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION. - ISSN 0006-3207. - STAMPA. - 158:(2013), pp. 63-72. [10.1016/j.biocon.2012.08.029]