Iberian Wolf

Iberian Wolf

name = Iberian Wolf
status = LR/cd

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Canidae
genus = "Canis"
species = "C. lupus"
subspecies = "C. l. signatus"
trinomial = "Canis lupus signatus"
trinomial_authority = Cabrera, 1907

The Iberian wolf ("Canis lupus signatus") is a subspecies of grey wolf that inhabits the forest and plains of northern Portugal and northwestern Spain.

Features and adaptations

The Iberian wolf differs from the more common Eurasian Wolf with its thinner build, the white marks on the upper lips, the dark marks on the tail and a pair of dark marks in its front legs that give it its subspecies name, "signatus" ("marked"). The subspecies differentiation may have developed at the end of the Pleistocene Ice Ages due to the isolation of the Iberian Peninsula when glacier barriers grew in the Pyrenees and eventually reached the Gulf of Biscay in the West and the Mediterranean in the East.

Males can weigh up to 40 kilograms, with females usually weighing 10 kg less. [ [http://www.signatus.org/docs/situation.pdf The wolf in Spain ] ]


The Iberian Wolf lives in small packs. It is considered to be beneficial because it keeps the population of wild boar stable, thus allowing some respite to the endangered capercaillie populations which suffers greatly from boar predation [ [http://www.iberianature.com/material/Wolves_boars_capercaillie.htm Wolves, boars and capercaillie ] ] . It also eats rabbits, roe deer, red deer, ibexes and even small carnivores and fish. In some places it eats domestic animals such as sheep and calves.


Until 1900s the Iberian Wolf inhabited the major part of the Iberian Peninsula. However, the Francoist Government started an extermination campaign during the 1950s and 1960s that wiped out the animals from all Spain except the NW part of the country and some isolated areas in Sierra Morena. Similar politics in Portugal almost led to the extinction of the animal south of the Douro river (there are still some surviving packs) [ [http://www.naturlink.pt/canais/Artigo.asp?iArtigo=2153&iLingua=1 Naturlink ] ] . Luckily, some Spanish naturalists and conservationists like Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente called for the end of the hunting and the protection of the animal. Today, the hunting of wolves is banned in Portugal, but allowed in some parts of Spain but not others. Overall, the Iberian Wolf is expanding to the South and East. There are reports of wolves returning to the Basque Country and to the provinces of Madrid and Guadalajara. A male wolf was found recently in Catalonia, where the last native wolf was killed in 1929. However, this animal was not a member of the Iberian subspecies, but (surprisingly) an Italian Wolf ("Canis lupus italicus"). It reached the region from France, probably from a reintroduced pack.

Some authors claims that the South-Eastern Spanish Wolf, last sighted in Murcia in the 1930s, was a different subspecies called "Canis lupus deitanus". It was an even smaller and more reddish in color, without dark spots. Both subspecies were nominated by Ángel Cabrera in 1907.


External links

* [http://www.iberianature.com/material/wolf.html#catalonia Iberian Wolf/Wolves in Spain]
* [http://www.il-st-acad-sci.org/mammals/dog003.html#catalonia Iberian Wolf Mammals/ dog]
* [http://ourworld.compuserve.co/homepages/Carlos_Joao/Iberianw.htm#catalonia Iberian Wolf ourworld]
* [http://www.iberianwolf.com/#catalonia Iberian Wolf.com]
* [http://lobo.fc.ul.pt/ Grupo Lobo]

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