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28 May 2016 Spatial ecology of coyotes in the Denver metropolitan area: influence of the urban matrix
Sharon A. Poessel, Stewart W. Breck, Eric M. Gese
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Abstract

Urbanization alters landscapes and ecosystem processes that result in negative impacts for many species. However, urbanization also creates novel environments that certain species, including carnivores, are able to exploit. Coyotes (Canis latrans) are 1 example of a species capable of exploiting urban environments throughout North America and, in some cases, becoming involved in human–coyote conflict. As part of a comprehensive study of human–coyote coexistence in the Denver metropolitan area of Colorado, we investigated the spatial ecology of coyotes to determine movement and activity patterns relative to the urban matrix. We examined home-range size, habitat use, and resource selection for 22 coyotes monitored with GPS collars during 2012–2014. Mean (± SD) home-range size of resident coyotes (11.6 ± 11.0 km2) was smaller than ranges of transient coyotes (200.7 ± 232.4 km2). Home-range size did not vary by season or sex, but resident coyotes during the day (7.2 ± 10.5 km2) had smaller home ranges than during the night (11.3 ± 10.8 km2). Coyotes had high percentages of developed lands (44.5 ± 18.9%) within their home ranges, contrary to previous studies of urban coyotes. However, the percentage of coyote locations in natural lands (48.9 ± 22.4%) was higher than in developed lands (20.6 ± 11.7%). Homerange size of residents was not related to either the percentage of developed lands or altered lands within home ranges. Coyotes selected natural lands over developed lands, and they increased activity at night. Although coyotes were able to thrive in home ranges containing large amounts of development, they continued to avoid areas with high human activity by primarily residing in areas with natural land cover. Similar to urban areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere, coyotes in the Denver metropolitan area have become efficiently adapted to a highly developed landscape, reflecting the flexible nature of this opportunistic carnivore.

Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Mammalogists. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
Sharon A. Poessel, Stewart W. Breck, and Eric M. Gese "Spatial ecology of coyotes in the Denver metropolitan area: influence of the urban matrix," Journal of Mammalogy 97(5), 1414-1427, (28 May 2016). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyw090
Received: 17 June 2015; Accepted: 4 May 2016; Published: 28 May 2016
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