Disputation: Tariku Mekonnen Gutema
Doctoral candidate Tariku Mekonnen Gutema at the Department of Biosciences will be defending the thesis "Behavioral ecology of the African wolf (Canis lupaster) and its implication for Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) conservation in the Ethiopian Highlands" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.
Tariku Mekonnen Gutema
The disputation will be live streamed using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.
Ex auditorio questions: The chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking "Participants" followed by clicking "Raise hand".
The meeting opens for participation just before 1.15 PM, and closes for new participants approximately 15 minutes after the defense has begun.
Natural mechanisms of population regulation and their relevance for conservation
Main research findings
Two distinct wolf species fight for survival in the Ethiopian Highlands
Currently, rapid increases in human populations are leading to conversion of wildlife habitats into agricultural area and human settlement. This is compelling the remaining wildlife species to concentrate into a confined protected area that intensify interspecific competitions. Two Canidae species, African wolves and endangered Ethiopian wolves, coexist in parts of the Ethiopian Highlands. The African wolf is one of the most recently discovered large mammals of Africa, and reclassified as a wolf. The Ethiopian wolf is an ecological specialist with small population number having fewer than 500 adult individuals left in the wild, which makes it sensitive to interspecific competition. To better understand these dynamics, the study focuses on the behavioral ecology of the African wolf and its impact on Ethiopian wolf’s conservation. The study was carried out based on tracking of 14-collared African wolf individuals, prey trapping, and use of the scat analysis.
The study shows interactions between the two species are typically agonistic and characterized by site-specific dominance and group size. African wolves tend to occupy more anthropogenically modified habitats and consume more diverse diets than Ethiopian wolves, which are rodent specialist and prefer ecologically intact habitats. These results suggest that interference competition with African wolves might be another potential threat to Ethiopian wolves while the exploitative competition between the two wolf species appears to be limited. The study also shows African wolves are the most serious predator of livestock in the area and the community had negative attitudes toward the African wolves but not toward Ethiopian wolves. On the other hand, the study highlights the importance of AWs in rodent pest control and waste management through their removal of rodent and livestock carcasses. We suggest reducing human encroachment and habitat loss in fragmented habitats that may offer the generalist African wolves a competitive advantage over Ethiopian wolves and protection of intact habitats to preserve habitat preferred by Ethiopian wolves.