However, wolves have been known to disperse at a rate of 100 km a year, but the Yellowstone wolves have only spread at one-tenth that rate. The slow dispersal rate had stumped researchers across North America until a team of mathematical biologists at the University of Alberta recently solved the puzzle.
"When the wolves traveled far distances in their new environment it was easy for them to lose track of their mates, and the further they traveled the less likely it is for them to find a mate," said Dr. Mark Lewis, director of the U of A Centre for Mathematical Biology and a co-author of the study.
"We've shown that a reduced probability of finding mates at low densities slows the predicted rate of recolonization," added Amy Hurford, a former U of A biological sciences master's student and co-author of the study.
By the 1970s, wolves had been systematically hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states in order to protect livestock. But wolves were a keystone species in the area (i.e. they are predators and nobody preys upon them), and, after 30 years of extinction, researchers felt a reintroduction of the species would balance the burgeoning population of other animals in the area, such as elk and cougars.
The wolves have been doing well in their new environment, and researchers had considered the wolves' slow dispersal to be more puzzling than problematic, which is good news, because Lewis believes the the slower-than-expected recolonization rate will continue.
"As long as they are dispersing into unchartered territory, we expect the population to continue spreading at the slow rate--about 10 km per year," said Lewis, the Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Biology.
The U of A researchers used radio tracking of wolves and computer simulation models to reach their conclusions. The research was published recently in the journal Theoretical Population Biology.
"Who would have thought that you could use mathematical equations to understand the behavior of wolves," Lewis said. "But that's what you can do in the field of mathematical biology. It's a newer field, but it's expanding rapidly."
Ryan Smith | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy