ResearchPad - coyotes Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Behavioral differences at scent stations between two exploited species of desert canids]]> Coyotes (Canis latrans) and kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis) are desert canids that share ecological similarities, but have disparate histories with anthropogenic pressure that may influence their responses towards novel stimuli. We used remote cameras to investigate response to novel stimuli for these two species. We predicted that coyotes (heavily pressured species) would be more wary towards novel stimuli on unprotected land (canid harvest activities are permitted) than in protected areas (canid harvest activities are not permitted), whereas kit foxes (less pressured species) would exhibit no difference. We examined differences in the investigative behaviors at 660 scent stations in both protected and unprotected areas. Coyotes showed no differences between protected and unprotected land and were generally more wary than kit foxes, supporting our prediction. Kit foxes were more investigative on protected land, contrary to our expectations. Our study provides evidence that anthropogenic pressure can alter the behaviors of wildlife species.

<![CDATA[Space Use and Habitat Selection by Resident and Transient Red Wolves (Canis rufus)]]>

Recovery of large carnivores remains a challenge because complex spatial dynamics that facilitate population persistence are poorly understood. In particular, recovery of the critically endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) has been challenging because of its vulnerability to extinction via human-caused mortality and hybridization with coyotes (Canis latrans). Therefore, understanding red wolf space use and habitat selection is important to assist recovery because key aspects of wolf ecology such as interspecific competition, foraging, and habitat selection are well-known to influence population dynamics and persistence. During 2009–2011, we used global positioning system (GPS) radio-telemetry to quantify space use and 3rd-order habitat selection for resident and transient red wolves on the Albemarle Peninsula of eastern North Carolina. The Albemarle Peninsula was a predominantly agricultural landscape in which red wolves maintained spatially stable home ranges that varied between 25 km2 and 190 km2. Conversely, transient red wolves did not maintain home ranges and traversed areas between 122 km2 and 681 km2. Space use by transient red wolves was not spatially stable and exhibited shifting patterns until residency was achieved by individual wolves. Habitat selection was similar between resident and transient red wolves in which agricultural habitats were selected over forested habitats. However, transients showed stronger selection for edges and roads than resident red wolves. Behaviors of transient wolves are rarely reported in studies of space use and habitat selection because of technological limitations to observed extensive space use and because they do not contribute reproductively to populations. Transients in our study comprised displaced red wolves and younger dispersers that competed for limited space and mating opportunities. Therefore, our results suggest that transiency is likely an important life-history strategy for red wolves that facilitates metapopulation dynamics through short- and long-distance movements and eventual replacement of breeding residents lost to mortality.

<![CDATA[One Health Interactions of Chagas Disease Vectors, Canid Hosts, and Human Residents along the Texas-Mexico Border]]>


Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi infection) is the leading cause of non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy in Latin America. Texas, particularly the southern region, has compounding factors that could contribute to T. cruzi transmission; however, epidemiologic studies are lacking. The aim of this study was to ascertain the prevalence of T. cruzi in three different mammalian species (coyotes, stray domestic dogs, and humans) and vectors (Triatoma species) to understand the burden of Chagas disease among sylvatic, peridomestic, and domestic cycles.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To determine prevalence of infection, we tested sera from coyotes, stray domestic dogs housed in public shelters, and residents participating in related research studies and found 8%, 3.8%, and 0.36% positive for T. cruzi, respectively. PCR was used to determine the prevalence of T. cruzi DNA in vectors collected in peridomestic locations in the region, with 56.5% testing positive for the parasite, further confirming risk of transmission in the region.


Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence for autochthonous Chagas disease transmission in south Texas. Considering this region has a population of 1.3 million, and up to 30% of T. cruzi infected individuals developing severe cardiac disease, it is imperative that we identify high risk groups for surveillance and treatment purposes.

<![CDATA[Single-Camera Trap Survey Designs Miss Detections: Impacts on Estimates of Occupancy and Community Metrics]]>

The use of camera traps as a tool for studying wildlife populations is commonplace. However, few have considered how the number of detections of wildlife differ depending upon the number of camera traps placed at cameras-sites, and how this impacts estimates of occupancy and community composition. During December 2015–February 2016, we deployed four camera traps per camera-site, separated into treatment groups of one, two, and four camera traps, in southern Illinois to compare whether estimates of wildlife community metrics and occupancy probabilities differed among survey methods. The overall number of species detected per camera-site was greatest with the four-camera survey method (P<0.0184). The four-camera survey method detected 1.25 additional species per camera-site than the one-camera survey method, and was the only survey method to completely detect the ground-dwelling silvicolous community. The four-camera survey method recorded individual species at 3.57 additional camera-sites (P = 0.003) and nearly doubled the number of camera-sites where white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were detected compared to one- and two-camera survey methods. We also compared occupancy rates estimated by survey methods; as the number of cameras deployed per camera-site increased, occupancy estimates were closer to naïve estimates, detection probabilities increased, and standard errors of detection probabilities decreased. Additionally, each survey method resulted in differing top-ranked, species-specific occupancy models when habitat covariates were included. Underestimates of occurrence and misrepresented community metrics can have significant impacts on species of conservation concern, particularly in areas where habitat manipulation is likely. Having multiple camera traps per site revealed significant shortcomings with the common one-camera trap survey method. While we realize survey design is often constrained logistically, we suggest increasing effort to at least two camera traps facing opposite directions per camera-site in habitat association studies, and to utilize camera-trap arrays when restricted by equipment availability.

<![CDATA[Isotopic ecology of coyotes from scat and road kill carcasses: A complementary approach to feeding experiments]]>

Scat is frequently used to study animal diets because it is easy to find and collect, but one concern is that gross fecal analysis (GFA) techniques exaggerate the importance of small-bodied prey to mammalian mesopredator diets. To capitalize on the benefits of scat, we suggest the analysis of scat carbon and nitrogen isotope values (δ13C and δ15N). This technique offers researchers a non-invasive method to gather short-term dietary information. We conducted three interrelated studies to validate the use of isotopic values from coyote scat: 1) we determined tissue-to-tissue apparent C and N isotope enrichment factors (ε13* and ε15*) for coyotes from road kill animals (n = 4); 2) we derived diet-to-scat isotope discrimination factors for coyotes; and 3) we used field collected coyote scats (n = 12) to compare estimates of coyote dietary proportions from stable isotope mixing models with estimates from two GFA techniques. Scat consistently had the lowest δ13C and δ15N values among the tissues sampled. We derived a diet-to-scat Δ13C value of -1.5‰ ± 1.6‰ and Δ15N value of 2.3‰ ± 1.3‰ for coyotes. Coyote scat δ13C and δ15N values adjusted for discrimination consistently plot within the isotopic mixing space created by known dietary items. In comparison with GFA results, we found that mixing model estimates of coyote dietary proportions de-emphasize the importance of small-bodied prey. Coyote scat δ13C and δ15N values therefore offer a relatively quick and non-invasive way to gain accurate dietary information.

<![CDATA[Synanthropic Mammals as Potential Hosts of Tick-Borne Pathogens in Panama]]>

Synanthropic wild mammals can be important hosts for many vector-borne zoonotic pathogens. The aim of this study was determine the exposure of synanthropic mammals to two types of tick-borne pathogens in Panama, spotted fever group Rickettsia (SFGR) and Borrelia relapsing fever (RF) spirochetes. One hundred and thirty-one wild mammals were evaluated, including two gray foxes, two crab-eating foxes (from zoos), four coyotes, 62 opossum and 63 spiny rats captured close to rural towns. To evaluate exposure to SFGR, serum samples from the animals were tested by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) using Rickettsia rickettsii and Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii antigen. Immunoblotting was performed using Borrelia turicatae protein lysates and rGlpQ, to assess infection caused by RF spirochetes. One coyote (25%) and 27 (43%) opossums showed seroreactivity to SFGR. Of these opossums, 11 were seroreactive to C. R. amblyommii. Serological reactivity was not detected to B. turicatae in mammal samples. These findings may reflect a potential role of both mammals in the ecology of tick-borne pathogens in Panama.

<![CDATA[Does Predation Influence the Seasonal and Diel Timing of Moose Calving in Central Ontario, Canada?]]>

Birth synchrony is well documented among ungulates and is hypothesised to maximize neonate survival, either by minimizing the risk of predation through predator swamping or by synchronising birthing with increased seasonal food availability. We used encapsulated vaginal implant transmitters to locate and capture neonatal moose calves and document the seasonal and diel timing of parturition in two adjacent study areas with different predation pressure in central Ontario, Canada. We tested the hypothesis that predation promotes earlier and more synchronous birth of moose calves. Across both areas, proportionately more births occurred during the afternoon and fewer than expected occurred overnight. Mean date of calving averaged 1.5 days earlier and calving was also more synchronous in the study area with heavier predation pressure, despite average green-up date and peak Normalized Difference Vegetation Index date occurring 2 days later in this study area than in the area receiving lighter predation pressure. We encourage analysis of data on timing of parturition from additional study areas experiencing varying degrees of predation pressure to better clarify the influence of predation in driving seasonal and diel timing of parturition in temperate ungulates.

<![CDATA[Ecological Changes in Coyotes (Canis latrans) in Response to the Ice Age Megafaunal Extinctions]]>

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are an important species in human-inhabited areas. They control pests and are the apex predators in many ecosystems. Because of their importance it is imperative to understand how environmental change will affect this species. The end of the Pleistocene Ice Age brought with it many ecological changes for coyotes and here we statistically determine the changes that occurred in coyotes, when these changes occurred, and what the ecological consequences were of these changes. We examined the mandibles of three coyote populations: Pleistocene Rancho La Brean (13–29 Ka), earliest Holocene Rancho La Brean (8–10 Ka), and Recent from North America, using 2D geometric morphometrics to determine the morphological differences among them. Our results show that these three populations were morphologically distinct. The Pleistocene coyotes had an overall robust mandible with an increased shearing arcade and a decreased grinding arcade, adapted for carnivory and killing larger prey; whereas the modern populations show a gracile morphology with a tendency toward omnivory or grinding. The earliest Holocene populations are intermediate in morphology and smallest in size. These findings indicate that a niche shift occurred in coyotes at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary – from a hunter of large prey to a small prey/more omnivorous animal. Species interactions between Canis were the most likely cause of this transition. This study shows that the Pleistocene extinction event affected species that did not go extinct as well as those that did.

<![CDATA[A meta-analysis of home range studies in the context of trophic levels: Implications for policy-based conservation]]>

Home ranges have been widely-used as ecological tools, though using home range estimates in decision-support for conservation biology is a relatively new idea. However, trophic levels are rarely taken into consideration when estimating home range. This lapse could present issues when interpreting past studies, especially in policy-based conservation. The objectives of this study were to survey the current literature, to critically analyse published articles with home range analyses, and to compare home range size by species’ trophic level. We predicted that animals residing in higher trophic levels would have significantly larger home ranges than animals occupying lower trophic levels. We found that terrestrial carnivores had larger home ranges than terrestrial herbivores, though terrestrial mesocarnivores had the largest home ranges. We also found that aquatic herbivores had larger home ranges than both aquatic carnivores and aquatic mesocarnivores. Our results are important to consider for planning and management sectors, to avoid the implementation of ineffective conservation policies.