A recent study by Utah State University and University of Oxford, following 280 collared wolves in Yellowstone National Park over 13 years, found that wolf populations in the park self-limit, in that wolves will fight more as populations grow.
This contradicts traditional beliefs that wolf populations were only limited by the amount of available prey in the area. In fact, neighboring wolf packs fight more as population density increases — if there are more than 65 wolves per 1,000 square meters — resulting in a lower survival rate.
“For those concerned about wolf populations, even when you have super abundant prey like in Yellowstone, there are limits to wolf population growth. There is an intrinsic limit to the number of wolves that occupy a given space,” researcher Dan MacNulty, a USU ecologist who worked on the paper, said.
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