Dispersal influences distribution and genetic structure of animal populations. Dispersal in expanding wolf (Canis lupus) populations is not well documented, especially in Europe, where no studies of dispersal based on marked wolves are available. We studied the dispersal of wolves in Finland, where a peripheral wolf population (160–180 animals) increased and expanded during 1998–2004. We equipped 60 wolves from 8 neighboring wolf pack territories with radio or GPS transmitters in east-central Finland during 1998–2004, and at least 30 wolves (50%) dispersed from the home territory. Additional information was collected by detecting the natal pack of captured wolves with multilocus microsatellite genotyping and paternity analysis. In the study area, the directions formed a sun-ray pattern. Wolves usually departed their home territory as pups and yearlings, and in unimodal seasonal fashion. The dispersal distance (median 98.5, range 35–445 km) did not differ by sex (P = 0.342). Long-distance travelers (>200 km) were found only among wolves that departed at the age of 10–12 months. Survival was linked to the direction of dispersal. All marked wolves that dispersed to reindeer management areas in the north were shot before being able to reproduce, whereas elsewhere, the majority of dispersers (10 of 16) reproduced.
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