Carnivore-specific stable isotope variables and variation in the foraging ecology of modern and ancient wolf populations: Case studies from Isle Royale, Minnesota, and La Brea

K. Fox-Dobbs, J. K. Bump, R. O. Peterson, D. L. Fox, P. L. Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use carbon and nitrogen isotope data collected from two North American gray wolf (Canis lupus L., 1758) populations (Isle Royale and northern Minnesota) to both calculate carnivore-specific isotopic variables and investigate wolf foraging ecology. The isotopic enrichments of 13C and 15N that occur between mammalian carnivores and their prey have not been well defined in modern populations. We use bone collagen from the Isle Royale National Park wolf, moose (Alces alces (L., 1758)), and beaver (Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820) populations to determine trophic enrichment factors of 1.3‰ ± 0.6‰ for δ13C and 4.6‰ ± 0.7‰ for δ15N. We apply these carnivore-specific fractionation factors to a case study from the fossil record, and reconstruct the diets of late-Pleistocene dire wolves (Canis dirus (Leidy, 1858)) from the La Brea tar pits. We use the Minnesota wolf tissue (collagen, hair, muscle) isotopic data to estimate carnivore population subsample sizes needed to replicate the mean values of the whole population within one standard deviation. Finally, we compare the Isle Royale and Minnesota collagen and hair isotopic data to published δ13C and δ15N values for North American gray wolf populations. We find that interpopulation differences in isotope variances provide insight into wolf foraging ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-471
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2007

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