Abundance and distribution of food resources can profoundly affect movements and spatial distribution of solitary carnivores. Food availability and distribution are often altered in urbanized systems due to occurrence of abundant and highly concentrated anthropogenic resources. To address effects of these resources on movements and spatial distribution of raccoons (Procyon lotor), we simultaneously studied populations inhabiting urban (Ned Brown Forest Preserve), suburban (Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation), and rural (Glacial Park) open areas in northeastern Illinois. Estimates of sizes of home ranges were smaller for urban (range, 25.2–52.8 ha, n = 29) and suburban (21.4–37.2 ha, n = 34) than rural (71.2–182.4 ha, n = 39) raccoons during all seasons (P < 0.05). Seasonal changes in sizes of home ranges were least pronounced at the suburban site. Seasonal shifts in activity centers also were small for raccoons at the suburban site and for most raccoons at the urban site. Spatial distribution was aggregated during all seasons at the urban site, and during all seasons except summer 1997 at the suburban site. Abundant and relatively stable artificial resources typical of urbanized systems contributed to reduced size and increased stability of home ranges. Further, concentration of these resources into rich and separated patches resulted in an aggregated distribution. Similar responses to abundant and concentrated resources have been documented for solitary carnivores in other, more natural, systems.
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