Wild canid distribution and co-existence in a natural–urban matrix of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts

Northeastern Naturalist
By: , and 

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Abstract

Although development and urbanization are typically believed to have negative impacts on carnivoran species, some species can successfully navigate an urban matrix. Sympatric carnivorans compete for limited resources in urban areas, likely with system-specific impacts to their distributions and activity patterns. We used automatically triggered wildlife cameras to assess the local distribution and co-existence of Canis latrans (Coyote), Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox), and Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Gray Fox) across the Pioneer Valley, MA, in relation to different levels of human development. We placed cameras at 79 locations in forested, altered, and urban land-use areas from September to November 2012 and accumulated 1670 trap nights. We determined site characteristics and detection rates for 12 other wildlife species for each camera location to develop a generalized linear model for the local distribution of each focal canid species across the study area. We also compared diel activity patterns among Coyotes, Red Foxes, and Gray Foxes, and calculated coefficients of overlap between each pair. The local distribution of Coyotes was positively associated with the detection rates of their prey and not associated with detection rates of sympatric carnivoran species. Red Foxes and Gray Foxes had negative relationships with the detection rate of Coyotes, and none of the 3 canid species showed a positive correlation with increased levels of urbanization. There was a high degree of temporal overlap in diel activity patterns and limited spatial overlap of our focal species, which suggests that any competition avoidance across our study area occurred at the spatial level. Coyotes fill the role of top predator in the Pioneer Valley, and likely have a negative impact on the local distributions of smaller canids, while their own local distributions seem to be driven by prey availability.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Wild canid distribution and co-existence in a natural–urban matrix of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts
Series title Northeastern Naturalist
DOI 10.1656/045.026.0208
Volume 26
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Eagle Hill Institute
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 18 p.
First page 325
Last page 342
Country United States
State Massachesetts
County Franklin County, Hampshire County
Other Geospatial Pioneer Valley