Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 1, 2015

Wolf diet in an agricultural landscape of north-eastern Turkey

  • Claudia Capitani ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Mark Chynoweth , Josip Kusak , Emrah Çoban and Çağan H. Şekercioğlu
From the journal Mammalia


In this study, we investigated wolf feeding ecology in Kars province, north-eastern Turkey, by analysing 72 scat samples collected in spring 2013. Ongoing camera trap surveys suggest that large wild ungulates are exceptionally rare in the region. On the contrary, livestock is abundant. Accordingly, scats analysis revealed that livestock constituted most of the biomass intake for wolves, although small mammals were the most frequent prey items. Wild ungulates were occasional prey, and although wolves make use of the main village garbage dump as a food source, garbage remains were scarce in scat samples. Wolf dependence on anthropogenic resources, primarily livestock, generates human-wildlife conflicts in the study area. Uncontrolled carcass disposal seems to boost this wolf behaviour. Synanthropy enhances the probability of wolf-human encounters and thus increases the risk of direct persecution, vehicle collisions, and hybridisation with dogs. When livestock is not available, small mammals are an important alternative prey for wolves. This may increase interspecific competition, particularly with lynx, which is also lacking natural prey in the area. Our preliminary results contribute to wolf ecology and conservation in the Anatolian-Caucasian range, where further studies are urgently needed to generate baseline data.


We thank the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks and Forestry General Directorate of Turkey’s Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs for permitting our research, which was conducted under the Eastern Turkey Wildlife Research and Conservation protocol signed with the ministry. We thank the Christensen Fund, National Geographic Society Education Foundation, UNDP Small Grants Programme, the University of Utah and the Whitley Fund for their support. We are grateful to the KuzeyDoğa staff and volunteers for their tireless efforts through the years and to the people of Kars for their hospitality. We thank Dr. Luca Mattioli for his contribution to prey remains identification and Dr. Colin Courtney Mustaphy for commenting on a draft of the original manuscript.


Anonymous. 2012. (T-PVS (2012) 7), Report from the Meeting of the Group of Experts on the conservation of large carnivores in Europe Council of Europe. pp. 75.Search in Google Scholar

Blanco, J.C. and Y. Cortés. 2007. Dispersal patterns, social structure and mortality of wolves living in agricultural habitats in Spain. J. Zool. (Lond.) 273: 114–124.10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00305.xSearch in Google Scholar

Boitani, L. 2003. Wolves conservation and recovery. In: (L.D. Mech and L. Boitani, eds.) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. pp. 317–340.10.7208/chicago/9780226516981.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Brillouin, L. 1956. Science and information theory. Academic Press, New York. pp. 320.Search in Google Scholar

Capitani, C., I. Bertelli, P. Varuzza, M. Scandura and M. Apollonio. 2004. A comparative analysis of wolf (Canis lupus) diet in three different Italian ecosystems. Mamm. Biol.-Z. Säugetierkd. 69: 1–10.10.1078/1616-5047-112Search in Google Scholar

Chapron, G., P. Kaczensky, J.D.C. Linnell, M. von Arx, D. Huber, H. Andrén, J.V. López-Bao, M. Adamec, F. Álvares, O. Anders, L. Balčiauskas, V. Balys, P. Bedő, F. Bego, J.C. Blanco, U. Breitenmoser, H. Brøseth, L. Bufka, R. Bunikyte, P. Ciucci, A. Dutsov, T. Engleder, C. Fuxjäger, C. Groff, K. Holmala, B. Hoxha, Y. Iliopoulos, O. Ionescu, J. Jeremić, K. Jerina, G. Kluth, F. Knauer, I. Kojola, I. Kos, M. Krofel, J. Kubala, S. Kunovac, J. Kusak, M. Kutal, O. Liberg, A. Majić, P. Männil, R. Manz, E. Marboutin, F. Marucco, D. Melovski, K. Mersini, Y. Mertzanis, R.W. Mysłajek, S. Nowak, J. Odden, J. Ozolins, G. Palomero, M. Paunović, J. Persson, H. Potočnik, P.-Y. Quenette, G. Rauer, I. Reinhardt, R. Rigg, A. Ryser, V. Salvatori, T. Skrbinšek, A. Stojanov, J.E. Swenson, L. Szemethy, A. Trajçe, E. Tsingarska-Sedefcheva, M. Váňa, R. Veeroja, P. Wabakken, M. Wölfl, S. Wölfl, F. Zimmermann, D. Zlatanova and L. Boitani. 2014. Recovery of large carnivores in Europe’s modern human- dominated landscapes. Science 346: 1517–1519.10.1126/science.1257553Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Ciucci, P., L. Boitani, E.R. Pelliccioni, M. Rocco and I. Guy. 1996. A comparison of scat-analysis methods to assess the diet of the wolf Canis lupus. Wildlife Biol. 2: 37–48.10.2981/wlb.1996.006Search in Google Scholar

Debrot, S., C. Mermod and J.M. Weber. 1982. Atlas des poils de mammifères d’Europe. Institut de Zoologie de l’Université de Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel. pp. 1–208.Search in Google Scholar

Falcucci, A., L. Maiorano and L. Boitani. 2007. Changes in land-use/land-cover patterns in Italy and their implications for biodiversity conservation. Landscape Ecol. 22: 617–633.10.1007/s10980-006-9056-4Search in Google Scholar

Floyd, T.J., L.D. Mech and P.D. Jordan. 1978. Relating wolf scat content to prey consumed. J. Wildl. Manage. 42: 528–532.10.2307/3800814Search in Google Scholar

Fritts, S.H., R.O. Stephenson, R.D. Hayes and L. Boitani. 2003. Wolves and humans. In: (L.D. Mech and L. Boitani, eds.) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. pp. 289–316.Search in Google Scholar

Gümüşhane Haberi. 2013. Dogaya Yirmi Kizil Geyik Salindi. URL: Gümüşhane, Turkey.Search in Google Scholar

Hass, C.C. 2009. Competition and coexistence in sympatric bobcats and pumas. 2009. J. Zool.(Lond.) 278: 174–180.10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00565.xSearch in Google Scholar

Hosseini-Zavarei, F., M.S. Farhadinia, M. Beheshti-Zavareh and A. Abdoli. 2013. Predation by grey wolf on wild ungulates and livestock in central Iran. J. Zool. (Lond.) 290: 127–134.10.1111/jzo.12022Search in Google Scholar

Jedrzejewski, W. and V. Sidorovich. 2010. The art of tracking animals. Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bialowieza, Poland. pp. 227.Search in Google Scholar

Klare, U., J.F. Kamler and D.W. Macdonald. 2011. A comparison and critique of different scat-analysis methods for determining carnivore diet. Mamm. Rev. 41: 294–312.10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00183.xSearch in Google Scholar

Kopaliani, N., M. Shakarashvili, Z. Gurielidze, T. Qurkhuli and D. Tarkhnishvili. 2014. Gene flow between wolf and shepherd dog populations in Georgia (Caucasus). J. Hered. 105: 345–353.10.1093/jhered/esu014Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Lelieveld, G. 2013. Meta-analysis on the effect of competition between lynx and wolf on their diets. MSc Ecology, VU University, Amsterdam.Search in Google Scholar

Mattioli, L., C. Capitani, A. Gazzola, M. Scandura and M. Apollonio. 2011. Prey selection and dietary response by wolves in a high-density multi-species ungulate community. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 57: 909–922.10.1007/s10344-011-0503-4Search in Google Scholar

Meriggi, A. and S. Lovari. 1996. A review of wolf predation in southern Europe: does the wolf prefer wild prey to livestock? J. Appl. Ecol. 33: 1561.10.2307/2404794Search in Google Scholar

Meriggi, A., A. Brangi, L. Schenone, D. Signorelli and P. Milanesi. 2011. Changes of wolf (Canis lupus) diet in Italy in relation to the increase of wild ungulate abundance. Ethol. Ecol. Evol. 23: 195–210.10.1080/03949370.2011.577814Search in Google Scholar

Morehouse, A.T. and M.S. Boyce. 2011. From venison to beef: seasonal changes in wolf diet composition in a livestock grazing landscape. Front. Ecol. Environ. 9: 440–445.10.1890/100172Search in Google Scholar

Peterson, R.O. and P. Ciucci. 2003. The wolf as a carnivore. In: (L.D. Mech and L. Boitani, eds.) Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. pp. 104–130.Search in Google Scholar

Rigg, R. and M. Gorman. 2004. Spring-autumn diet of wolves (Canis lupus) in Slovakia and a review of wolf prey selection. Oecol. Mont. 13:30–41.Search in Google Scholar

Rigg, R., S. Find’o, M. Wechselberger, M.L. Gorman, C. Sillero-Zubiri and D.W. Macdonald. 2011. Mitigating carnivore–livestock conflict in Europe: lessons from Slovakia. Oryx 45: 272–280.10.1017/S0030605310000074Search in Google Scholar

Şekercioğlu, Ç.H. 2012. Turkey’s first wildlife corridor links bear, wolf and lynx populations to the Caucasus forests. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. URL: in Google Scholar

Şekercioğlu, Ç.H., S. Anderson, E. Akçay, R. Bilgin, Ö.E. Can, G. Semiz, Ç. Tavşanoğlu, M.B. Yokeş, A. Soyumert, K. İpekdal, İ.K. Sağlam, M. Yücel and D.H. Nüzhet. 2011. Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis. Biol. Conserv. 144: 2752–2769.10.1016/j.biocon.2011.06.025Search in Google Scholar

Tourani, M., E.M. Moqanaki, L. Boitani and P. Ciucci. 2014. Anthropogenic effects on the feeding habits of wolves in an altered arid landscape of central Iran. Mammalia 78: 117–121.10.1515/mammalia-2012-0119Search in Google Scholar

Tuğ, S. 2005. Conflict between humans and wolf: a study in Bozdağ, Konya Province, Turkey. Master’s Thesis. Middle East Technical University. pp. 58.Search in Google Scholar

Tumanov, I.L. 1998. Reproductive characteristic of captive European brown bears and growth rates of their cubs in Russia. Ursus 10:63–65.Search in Google Scholar

Van Duyne, C., E. Ras, A.E. Vos, W.F. Boer, R.J. Henkens and D. Usukhjargal. 2009. Wolf predation among reintroduced Przewalski horses in Hustai National Park, Mongolia. J. Wildl. Manage. 73: 836–843.10.2193/2008-027Search in Google Scholar

World Wildlife Fund. 2014. Reintroduction of the Caucasian Red Deer in Armenia. Gland, Switzerland. URL: in Google Scholar

Received: 2014-10-14
Accepted: 2015-4-22
Published Online: 2015-6-1
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

Downloaded on 21.3.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow