The grey wolf (Canis lupus) lives in remote and wilderness areas of North America and Eurasia. Their primary diet consists of large hooved mammals and medium mammals including moose, deer, and boar. However, they have been known to supplement their diet with small mammals (rabbits, mice), frogs, and even apples. Wolves and brown bears are on equal footing with each other when it comes to predation, leaving humans as the wolf’s only real predator. The grey wolf is a social animal and lives in a pack of 5-8 members. Their average weight is 37kg (females) and 40kg (males) with a life expectancy of 6-8 years on average. Wolf mothers tend to have litters of 4-8. Some research shows that the mortality rate of pups is 60-80%.
In 1995, the 21 grey wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone National Park. They were met with much resistance from local ranchers that said they would shoot any wolf on sight. As of 2017, there are 97 surviving wolves.
- Based on the information above, would you classify the wolf as a K-species or r-species? Explain your answer.
- Watch this short video. Cite three pieces of evidence that the wolf is a keystone species in Yellow National Park.