The wolf (Canis lupus) is the most widespread carnivore in the northern hemisphere, living from the iced tundra to semi-desert areas, passing through the temperate forests of Central Eurasia and the Americas.
The Iberian wolf is a generalist animal concerning habitat selection and its distribution depends fundamentally on the availability and accessibility of suitable prey (such as buck, deer, wild boar) and on the degree of human disturbance.
Despite the partial extinction of the species in most of the developed countries during the 20th century, the Iberian Peninsula was one of the few strongholds for this carnivore, in a landscape where wolves and men are bound to live together. The last wolf census in Portugal, 15 years ago, reported a population between 200 and 400 wolves in the wild and around 55 packs.
There is an enormous necessity to update wolf numbers and distribution in Portugal so that conservation measures can be successfully implemented. That´s the reason behind the Iberian Wolf Expedition.
The expedition will take place at Northeastern Portugal, where about 25% of the Portuguese wolf population inhabit. Our monitoring range covers all Vinhais and Bragança counties, with an extent of 2.250km2.
The landscape is formed by a sequence of rounded peaks (438m to 1481m) and steep valleys, where pristine freshwater rivers meander. Human presence and activities are deeply connected to nature, producing a mosaic of oak forests, chestnut trees, mountain shrubs, riparian forest, meadows or cereal land.
The wildlife in this area is very rich and diverse, where around 250 species of vertebrate inhabit and a myriad of invertebrates make their home.
Biotopes and Habitats cartography - Modeling of Habitat and Ecological Corridors
One of the goals of the expedition is to map biotopes and habitats of the study area, to better understand the habitat of the Iberian Wolf and of its prey, as well as its population dynamics.
It consists in the identification of large habitat patches or of different uses of the soil by man. This can be carried out by traveling around the study area with the help of a car. The identification of the patch is made in situ and with the help of satellite images previously printed.
This mapping will allow to create habitat suitability models to infer the quality of the ecosystem and to highlight areas with the greatest potentialities for Iberian Wolf and its prey, to determine the main corridors between areas of good habitat and thus, to define priority conservation area