Wolves are awesome animals. They can been seen on our clothes, our money, and throughout our popular culture.They can come in many colors like red, white, grey, and maybe green. Red wolves (Canis rufus) are critically endangered with about 100 currently living in the wild, the wild being the Albemarle Peninsula of North Carolina, which is the only place where Red wolves exist, and sadly their future doesn’t look that great. White wolves (Canis lupus arctos) are a actually a subspecies of the grey wolf (Canis lupus), and are remarkable creatures. To celebrate the coolness of the wolf, here are a sampling of wolf related links and goodness.
Wolf Conservation and Ecology
Many species of wolves are threatened, but in some areas they are making a comeback, and they are thriving in some unexpected areas, like Chernobyl.
One of the most famous places for wolves is Yellowstone National Park, and one wolf, named 832F, was very famous, unfortunately she was shot and killed by a hunter in 2012.
832F was one of many wolves that had been outfitted with a GPS tracking collar that allowed scientists and the public to track wolf packs, which is pretty cool.
The wolves of Yellowstone were re-introduced in 1995, and the amazing impact that their re-introduction had on the ecosystem is wonderfully described in this video.
Part of the reason wolves get hunted is for conservation and intensive management efforts, and this article does a great job of describing the role wolves play in ecology, and why we sometimes hate and fear the wolf.
This article discuses wolf ecology on Isle Royale, where things are a bit more tricky because of the dynamics of island life. The three conservation options discussed are to conserve Isle Royale’s wolf population by taking new wolves to the island to mitigate inbreeding, an action known as genetic rescue; to reintroduce wolves to the island, if and when they go extinct; or to do nothing, essentially the conservation equivalent of Star Trek’s Prime Directive. The debate is ongoing, but things are not looking good for these wolves.
Preserving wolves takes on a whole new meaning in a series of wolf videos over at The Brain Scoop, made by the Chief Curiosity Correspondent at The Field Museum in Chicago, Emily Graslie. The videos, which are not for the faint of heart or squeamish, show Emily Getting a Wolf, Skinning a Wolf, Gutting a Wolf, Wolf Head CSI Fun Time, and examining the stomach contents of the wolf. Below is the skinning the wolf episode, it is pretty amazing, educational, and little bit gross.
Wolves and Dogs
An interesting evolutionary question, is what separates wolves from dogs? There is a lot of literature looking into this, but here are just a couple of neat articles that look at behavioural differences (Why Wolves are Forever Wild, but Dogs Can be Tamed, and The Difference Between Pet Dogs and Tame Wolves) and the role diet played in the evolution of wolves and dogs (Dogs Adapted to Agriculture, and Research Looks at Starchy Diet’s Role in Dog’s Evolution).
The howl of the wolf is unmistakable and can be equal parts terrifying and awe-inspiring. Interestingly, wolves use their howl for more than just terrifying us, but also to communicate to friends.
The howl of a wolf is so unique that technology is now allowing experts to identify individual wolves just by their call. You can become one of those experts by taking part in Algonquin Parks Public Wolf Howl, now in its 50th year.
Fun with Wolves
Wolves are all over television, between True Blood, Teen Wolf, Bitten, Doctor Who, Being Human (UK and US), wolves, or rather werewolves, are very hot right now.
For a more education take of wolves, check out the documentary In the Valley of the Wolves.
Or for a more fictional take watch, The Grey, White Fang, or Save the Date*.
The reason I list Save the Date as a wolf movie, is because the band featured in the movie is called Wolf Bird, and one of the characters has a past time of following wolf-named bands, some of which are listed in this excellent graphic (section of which is seen on the left) by CBC music of the Taxonomy of a Band Name.
Speaking of music, here is a Wolf related playlist, and a playlist of bands that played the excellent Wolfe Island Music Festival in 2013.
If wolf reading is more your speed, Jack London’sWhite Fang is available as a free eBook.
And if the internet is more your thing, wolves are found all around the net, including the Courage Wolf and Insanity Wolf memes, and Buzzfeed has a list of the 17 Least Majestic Wolves (#1 is also used in this image, fully capitalizing on the YoungMe/NowMe trend).
Hopefully those links help to show just how cool wolves are, and if they didn’t I offer this picture without comment to convince you.