Although understanding habitat relationships remains fundamental to guiding wildlife management, these basic prerequisites remain vague and largely unstudied for the wolverine. Currently, a study of wolverine ecology conducted in Montana, USA, in the 1970s is the sole source of information on habitat requirements of wolverines in the conterminous United States. The Montana study and studies conducted in Canada and Alaska report varying degrees of seasonal differences in wolverine habitat use. This article provides an empirical assessment of seasonal wolverine habitat use by 15 wolverines (Gulo gulo) radiotracked in central Idaho, USA, in 1992–1996. We controlled for radiotelemetry error by describing the probability of each location being in a habitat cover type, producing a vector of cover type probabilities suited for resource selection analysis within a logistic regression framework. We identified variables that were important to presence of wolverines based on their strength (significance) and consistency (variability in coeff. sign) across all possible logistic regression models containing 9 habitat cover types and 3 topographic variables. We selected seasonal habitat models that incorporated those variables that were strong and consistent, producing a subset of potential models. We then ranked the models in this subset based on Akaike's Information Criterion and goodness-of-fit. Wolverines used modestly higher elevations in summer versus winter, and they shifted use of cover types from whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) in summer to lower elevation Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziezii) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) communities in winter. Elevation explained use of habitat better than any other variable in both summer and winter. Grass and shrub habitats and slope also had explanatory power. Wolverines preferred northerly aspects, had no attraction to or avoidance of trails during summer, and avoided roads and ungulate winter range. These findings improve our understanding of wolverine presence by demonstrating the importance of high-elevation subalpine habitats to central Idaho wolverines.
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Vol. 71 • No. 7