To Eat or Not To Eat? The Diet of the Endangered Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus) in a Human-Dominated Landscape in Central Portugal

by Torres et al 2015


Livestock predation by large carnivores and their persecution by local communities are major conservation concerns. In order to prevent speculations and reduce conflicts, it is crucial to get detailed and accurate data on predators’ dietary ecology, which is particularly important in human dominated landscapes where livestock densities are high.

This is the case of the endangered Iberian wolf in Portugal, an endemic subspecies of the Iberian Peninsula, which has seen its population distribution and abundance decline throughout the 20th century. Accordingly, the diet of the Iberian wolf was analyzed, using scat analysis, in a humanized landscape in central Portugal. From 2011 to 2014, a total of 295 wolf scats were collected from transects distributed throughout the study area, prospected on a monthly basis.

Scat analysis indicated a high dependence of Iberian wolf on livestock. Domestic goat predominated the diet (62% of the scats), followed by cow (20%) and sheep (13%); the only wild ungulate present in the scat analysis was the wild boar (4% of the scats). Our results show that even though livestock constitute most part of wolves diet, different livestock species may represent different predation opportunities.

We conclude that the high levels of livestock consumption may be a result of low diversity and density of wild ungulates that settles livestock as the only abundant prey for wolves. Our findings help on the understanding of the Iberian wolf feeding ecology and have implications for conflict management strategies. Finally, management implications are discussed and solutions are recommended.“

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photograph: Grupo Lobo - Associação para a Conservação do Lobo e do seu Ecossistema

King Pelagius of Asturias (685-737). A Visigothic nobleman, Pelagius (known in Spanish as Pelayo) resisted the Umayyad invasion of the Regnum Visigothorum in 711. Although the rest of the kingdom, including King Roderic himself, fell to the invaders, Pelagius rallied resistance in northern Iberia. There, he established the Kingdom of Asturias and decisively defeated the Umayyads at Covadonga in 718/722. This was the first significant Christian victory since the invasion began in 711 and ensured the independence of the new kingdom. Asturias was the launching point for the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula (Reconquista), which continued intermittently until the capture of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold, in 1492. For centuries, Asturias remained the only significant Christian holding in Iberia, later becoming the Kingdom of Leon (910-1230) and then the Kingdom of Castile (1230-1516). In 1469, Castile entered a personal union with Aragon and in 1516 they merged to form the unified Spanish monarchy. Asturias, therefore, is the historical foundation upon which modern Spain was built. 

Portugal - Caves in Lagos. Facts about Portugal: Area: 92,389 sq km occupying 15% of the Iberian Peninsula, which is shared with Spain. Also, the Atlantic islands of the Azores (2,247 sq km, nine islands) and Madeira (794 sq km, two islands).Population: 10,732,357. Capital: Lisbon. Official language: Portuguese. 9 languages.

Linguistics map of the Iberian Peninsula 1000-2000 AD

When language isolates are discussed, people often assume they are some weird, unique language that just sprung out of nowhere. It’s much more likely that these languages (like Basque) were parts of must larger families that died out. In this gif, you can see how Castilian overwhelms Iberia, which had been primarily speaking Arabic - Mozarabic. Even at that time, Basque was already a fairly small language. So what did the language landscape look like before Arabic - Mozarabic was the dominant language family?

I don’t know, but language has been around a lot longer than we have historical accounts, and it’s reasonable to think that Basque’s language family was once spoken in a much wider area. Who knows, maybe it originates from a language family that dominated Europe before Germanic and Romance languages existed. In any case, we no longer can trace it back to connect it to the languages in Europe today.


Aljafería Palace, Zaragoza, Spain

Zaragoza was a Taifa (independent islamic kingdom) that gained its independence after the fall of the Cordoba caliphate. To assert its authority and majesty, the taifa kingdoms adapted the models of the Great Mosque of Cordoba to their constructions, but supports still a regional influence that crossed across the taifas throught commerce. Although evoking the glorious days of the great caliphate of Cordoba, the artistic taifa models are themselves luxurious and complex.

La Aljafería is set on islamic roots but suffered a lot of interventions through time. After the 1118, it became a royal seat for the catholic kings. Two churches were added, transformations were made to the islamic oratory and even an extra story added. This was also the birthplace of saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, known for her miracle of the transformation of bread into roses. It was built by al-Muqtadir, the most powerful of the Banu Hud dynasty, that lasted between 1040 and 1100.

1. General view of la Aljafería.

2. Saint Elizabeth’s coutryard, north view.

3. The Golden Room, northwest view.

4. Entrance to the oratory through a lobed arch.

5. The mihrab, a model directly taken from the Great Cordoba Mosque. Notice the quranic writings above it.

6. Detail from the upper body of the inside of the oratory with intricate arabesques filling the entirety of the walls.

7. A beautiful mixtilíneo arch (composed of mixed lines, sometimes lobed) at the southern facade.

8. Fragments of the support system of a dome that used to cover the Golden Room, with geometrical and naturalistic elements combined.

Berberomeloe majalis

…is a largish species of blister beetle (Meloidae) that occurs in Spain and much of the Iberian Peninsula. Like other blister beetles B. majalis typically inhabits open areas and will feed on a variaty of plant material. True to its family name B. majalis is capable of exuding a hemolymph from its body which can cause blistering if it comes in contact with skin.


Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Meloidae-Meloinae-Lyttini-Berberomeloe-B. majalis

Image: Isabel Lopez and Carlos Bodas


Celtiberian Bronze Helmet, 4th century BC

This helmet was hammered from thin metal and decorated with repousse designs. Plain bands crisscross and encircle it, dividing the helmet into quadrants. A square opening has been cut away in the front for the face. Each quadrant contains a motif of three schematically rendered men beneath a “sun circle” ringed with dots. These lively human figures with their arms raised and one foot lifted off the ground seem to be engaged in an ecstatic dance. Dances such as these are described by Roman writers who observed the bellicose customs of the Celtiberians. Two projections along the transversal band of the helmet indicate that it once included an attached ornament or crest.

The Celtiberians were Celtic-speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final centuries BC. These tribes spoke the Celtiberian language. Extant tribal names include the Arevaci, Belli, Titti, Lusones, and Berones. Celtiberians were celebrated for their fine weapons and armor.

The Moors were the medieval Muslim inhabitants of North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta. They came from Morocco, western Algeria, the Western Sahara, and Mauritania. The Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised most of Spain and Portugal and parts of France. The initial rule of the Moors in the Iberian peninsula under this Caliphate of Córdoba was regarded as tolerant in its acceptance of Christians, Muslims and Jews living together in the same territories. The Moors left a rich cultural legacy in Spain & Portugal, as seen through Moorish architecture such as La Mezquita in Córdoba and the Alhambra Palace. Religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia. 

For More Information Search: Moors; Caliphate of Córdoba; Alhambra Palace, Reconquista; Ferdinand & Isabella; The Fall of Granada

Bronze age palace and grave goods discovered at the archaeological site of La Almoloya

Archaeologists from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have discovered a palatial construction with an audience hall which makes up the first specifically political precincts built in continental Europe. A prince’s tomb in the subsoil contains the largest amount of grave goods from the Bronze Age existing in the Iberian Peninsula. Some of the most outstanding items include a silver diadem of great scientific and patrimonial value, the only one conserved from that era in Spain, as well as four golden and silver ear dilators.

Excavations conducted in August by the researchers of the UAB’s Department of Prehistory Vicente Lull, Cristina Huete, Rafael Micó y Roberto Risch have made evident the unique archaeological wealth of La Almoloya site, located in Pliego, Murcia. The site was the cradle of the “El Argar” civilisation which lived in the south-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula during the Bronze Age. Read more.