The Vancouver Sun picked up the story about wolverines and climate change, which BBC ran yesterday. See comments on this story in yesterday’s post, below.
My concern is that advocates will latch onto this without due consideration of potential weaknesses in the study, leaving all of us who are concerned about wolverine conservation open to criticism of the science behind our claims. I just want to highlight a comment in the Vancouver Sun article that further confuses me:
‘”Unfortunately, we don’t actually know what the populations are like,” said Brodie. “It’s quite difficult to get good numbers on a rare and elusive species like a wolverine.”‘
It seems impossible, to me, to draw a connection between wolverine population and snowpack if you don’t actually know anything about the population trends. How does this work? This simply reinforces my perception that using trapping records as an indicator of overall demographic dynamics is inadequate. And I have been thinking about this a lot lately as I design a study to assess Mongolian wolverine populations; much of our data will, of necessity, rely on hunters’ information, and we came to the conclusion that there are very few ways to use this information to make reliable inferences about the state of the overall wolverine population.
Hopefully I’ll get a copy of the study shortly and will then be able to comment with a better understanding of the researchers’ methodology.