Lino, S., Carvalho, J., Ferreira, E., Fonseca, C. & Rosalino, L. M. (2022) Science-based solutions to foster connectivity of wolf populations are limited by available data.Hystrix-Italian Journal of Mammalogy, 33(1), 5-16. DOI:10.4404/hystrix–00487-2021 (IF2021 1,796; Q1 Zoology)
European wolf populations are currently exposed to distinct sources of anthropogenic disturbance and mortality that can cause dispersal limitations and lead to isolation. The identification of factors that act as complete or partial barriers to movement, dispersal, or gene flow contribute to foster connectivity between populations. We reviewed the existing literature (N = 32) on wolf population barriers to 1) identify main barriers to connectivity; 2) outline different methodologies; and 3) highlight knowledge gaps. Based on the reviewed studies that empirically tested barrier occurrence (N=14), we compiled data on wolf population structure, anthropogenic disturbance, land cover, ecological factors, geographical features, and prey availability, and tested them as predictors to explain barrier occurrence at continental scale. We report few studies directly addressing this subject for one of the most emblematic and thoroughly studied species, inhabiting one of the most modified landscapes in the world. Albeit our analysis suggested that anthropogenic features are the main drivers of barrier occurrence, we highlight that the absence of standardised data limits our understanding of this subject. Long-term, intensive monitoring programs, explicit hypothesis-driven research using empirical methodologies, and the integration of information on databases for collaborative science are needed to increase the conservation and management relevance of future scientific outcomes on this topic.