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Wednesday, January 27 • 1:20pm - 1:40pm
A Descriptive Habitat Model For The Grey Wolf Canis Lupus In Michigan

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AUTHORS: Zachery Millbrand*; Bob Grese; Bobbi Low

ABSTRACT: For the past 20 years, models to predict probabilities of ideal habitats for wolves in the Great Lakes Region have relied on the variable of road densities of highways, paved-roads, and roads passable without the use of four-wheel drive as a proxy for human accessibility. Recent studies have shown that this is a more descriptive method than predictive, and that the accuracy of previous models is approximately 60%. Furthermore, other studies have shown that wolves may themselves utilize roads for both travel and prey procurement, and that wolves have a higher tolerance for human activity than thought previously. Due to the increase in data available and improved geographic information analysis methods, I will be exploring whether or not other variables alone or in conjunction with road densities will be more descriptive of current grey wolf habitat in Michigan. This analysis will consist of layers of hiking trails, snowmobile trails, and forest road densities. I will also be seeking to test this new methodology by georeferencing it against previously obtained field and telemetry data of grey wolves in Michigan. With the placement of the grey wolf in Michigan back on the Endangered Species list in December 2014, the need for better understanding of habitat which will support the species is needed. Based on the expansion of findings for previous models, more accurate and robust modeling efforts can then be used in the future to calculate ideal population sizes and to assist management officials in better targeting conservation efforts. Since the days of Aldo Leopold, human-wolf interactions have been blamed on habitat loss and fragmentation. If more robust modelling methods are used in conjunction with education and outreach efforts, it is possible to better conserve the species in accordance with federal law, as well as to predict future potential habitat sites.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Vandenberg A