Territoriality in animals is of both theoretical and conservation interest. Animals are territorial when benefits of exclusive access to a limiting resource outweigh costs of maintaining and defending it. The size of territories can be considered a function of ecological factors that affect this benefit–cost ratio. Previous research has shown that territory sizes for wolves (Canis lupus) are largely determined by available biomass of prey, and possibly pack size and density of neighboring wolf packs, but has not been interpreted in a benefit–cost framework. Such a framework is relevant for wolves living in the Northern Rocky Mountains where conflicts with humans increase mortality, thereby potentially increasing costs of being territorial and using prey resources located near humans. We estimated territory sizes for 38 wolf packs in Montana from 2008 to 2009 using 90% adaptive kernels. We then created generalized linear models (GLMs) representing combinations of ecological factors hypothesized to affect the territory sizes of wolf packs. Our top GLM, which had good model fit (R2 = 0.68, P < 0.0005), suggested that territory sizes of wolves in Montana were positively related to terrain ruggedness, lethal controls, and human density and negatively related to number of surrounding packs relative to the size of the territory. We found that the top GLM successfully predicted territory sizes (R2 = 0.53, P < 0.0005) using a jackknife approach. Our study shows that territory sizes of group-living carnivores are influenced by not only intraspecific competition and availability of limiting resources, but also by anthropogenic threats to the group's survival, which could have important consequences where these territorial carnivores come into conflict with humans.
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Vol. 93 • No. 3