How few wolves is enough for long term ecological viability? Many times more than live in Minnesota now.

January 4, 2017
Article source: 
Biological Conservation via Elsevier

Australian biologists published an article in 2013 Genetics in conservation management: Revised recommendations for the 50/500 rules, Red List criteria and population viability analyses recommending revizing a formerly accepted rule stating that to avoid excessive loss of viability due to inbreading an effective population must be at least 50 animals and to maintain evolutionable viability a species needs 500 animals in an effective population. They recommend to double it to 100/1000 rule, because using latest analysis they find that the old rule is insufficient. Read from the link above or here.

Effective population is calculated as a fraction of total population, and typically N_effective = (0.1 to 0.2) N_total in a geographically separated area. Which stands the reason: wolf packs for example stay distributed over large territories, as opposed to residing in one dense freely interbreeding area. The last would be a natural imposibility for many reasons. Based on this, the number of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michihan Peninsula contiguous wolf population areas should house at least 5000 and maybe even 10000 wolves.

Everyone remembers a malicious wolf inbreading experiment conducted by Minnesota and Michigan zoologists for years? It led to almost complete wolf atrition (read here ). I think we all get the point!