Plans for a book on the wolf reproduction biology

Together with Irina Rotenko I started preparing a book about wolves in Belarus. There, we will address the questions of the species reproduction biology  that are still insufficiently investigated and full of contradicting hypotheses and knowledge. However, the main thing for us in doing this book is that being interested in studying these hidden part of wolf life, we would like to share the knowledge and skills we have gained on wolves in Belarus with wolf colleagues and amateurs.

Parent wolves looking for a new den for their pups

The preliminary title of the book is: “Reproduction biology  in  grey wolves Canis lupus in Belarus: Common beliefs versus reality. “ For the moment we plan publishing the book in the early 2018.

The book will contain the following parts:Cover.qxd
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Study areas
2.1. Paazierre Forest
2.2. Naliboki Forest
Chapter 3. Methods
3.1. Method of wolf census and approach to estimate the species population density
3.2. Snowtracking of wolves and identification of wolf tracks
3.3. Collecting information from the individual wolves that were marked with a clipped finger
3.4. Wolf pup searching and study on wolf denning behavior
3.5. Estimation of wolf fertility parameters
3.6. Investigation of wolf pack composition
3.7. Study on the interference between wolves and lynxes
3.8. Gathering of scats of wolf pups and their parents, analysis of the scats in order to estimate the pup and parent diets
3.9. Determination of wolf age
3.10. Estimation of the population density of the main prey species
3.11. Statistical methods
Chapter 4. Breeding behavior in wolves
4.1. Mating in wolves
4.2. Wolf denning and tending of early days pups
4.3. Raising of pups after weaning
4.4. Some behavioral traits of wolf-stray dog pairs at denning and raising pups
Chapter 5. Fertility and reproduction regulations in wolves
5.1. Frequency of breeding in female wolves and its density-dependent variation
5.2. Fecundity and its density-dependent variation
5.3. Pack multi-breeding as a density-dependent reproduction regulation in wolves
5.4. Hybridization with stay dogs as an overexploited population response to compensate the loss
Chapter 6. Mortality in wolf pups with implication for the species population structure
6.1. Mortality causes and estimates of mortality rate in wolf pups
6.2. Decline in the wolf reproduction with implication for wolf pack composition
Basic results

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This scientific monograph gives a detailed information about reproduction biology in the grey wolf Canis lupus in Belarus. This topic includes the wolf breeding (mating and denning) behavior, fertility of the species and mortality of its pups. The initial material was not collected occasionally from wolf hunters and wolf pup searchers, but mainly gained by authors first-hand according to a well-set research design and long-term. By analyzing the gathered data, we became convinced that in the wolf reproduction biology there are more exceptions than rules. Therefore, the standard patterns of reproduction biology in wolves that are wide-spread in the published literature about the species we call as common beliefs that are given versus the wolf reality that we have found in Belarus. Concerning the non-standard features in the wolf reproduction biology, we revealed that multiple breeding in wolf pack is a common phenomenon, breeding of yearling females and wolf-dog hybridization were found to be irrespective the food base and strongly depending on the species population density i.e. they are reproduction regulations. Wolf pup mortality was investigated and the crucial role of deliberate predation of lynxes on wolf pups was revealed.