D. ZLATANOVA and E. POPOVA
Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Faculty of Biology, Department of Zoology and Anthropology, BG – 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
ZLATANOVA, D. and E. POPOVA, 2013. Habitat variables associated with wolf (Canis lupus L.) distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., Supplement 2, 19: 262–266
The wolf is highly adaptable and at the same time, a conflict species, which demands for better understanding of the variables, associated with its presence. This is the first paper in Bulgaria, dealing with the habitat variables defining the wolf distribution in the country. Based on data for 1323 wolf locations collected during the last 3 years and updated distribution in Bulgaria, we analysed the main habitat factors influencing the distribution and abundance of the wolf in the country. The outcome of these analyses shows that although being mainly a forest species, the wolf does not avoid pastures and meadows and is tolerable to urban areas, although it prefers areas with smaller settlements. The wolves also avoid altitude below 500 m (correlated with densely populated areas and bigger settlements) and above 2000 m (above forest level) and show no significant preference to certain inclinations of the slope. The road density is also of no significant importance for the wolf distribution but there is clear avoidance of the busy primary roads (highways, first and second-class roads). The density of water areas is also of no significant influence for the wolf presence. The prey base (ungulate) density is one of the most important factors defining the wolf distribution and abundance as most of the wolf locations are collected in areas with ungulate biomass of 100-150 kg/кm2. Indirectly the wolf is affected by the number of hunters per area, mainly through the competition for the prey. Directly the species is affected only when the hunters’ density is above 3 hunters/ km2. Highest wolf density is observed in areas with 1-1.5 hunters/кm2, which is also correlated with high numbers of ungulates.