Human activity and development has led to extirpation of apex carnivores and the creation of altered ecosystems in many regions. As a result, mesocarnivores, such as coyotes, are shifting to occupy the apex carnivore role in some areas. It is important to understand the habitat needs and ecological roles of these new, adaptable apex carnivores, especially in altered and human-dominated ecosystems. We investigated the relationship of coyotes (Canis latrans) with environmental and human recreation variables in an altered eucalyptus ecosystem (San Francisco, California, USA) using camera traps and vegetation surveys. We documented coyotes at eight of our nine camera trap sites, with an average relative abundance index of 86.41 coyote events per 100 days. We tested a set of a-priori models to potentially explain coyote spatial use with generalized linear mixed effect models. Our top model was ‘Humans and Cover’ (wAICc=0.98), which included tree density, abundance of human walkers, joggers, and bikers as explanatory variables. We also tested whether coyotes were temporally avoiding humans, and found low temporal overlap between humans and coyotes (Δ4=0.40). Human activity within the park only ceased between 11 pm and 5 am, which resulted in coyote peak activity occurring around 4 am when no humans were present. This appears to be a shift in coyote temporal activity to avoid humans, as coyotes typically exhibit crepuscular activity cycles. Our results indicate that coyotes were able to adjust to the altered ecosystem, and instead their spatial use and temporal activity was most affected by human recreation.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|Event||The Wildlife Society 2018 Annual Conference - Cleveland, United States|
Duration: Oct 7 2018 → Oct 11 2018
Conference number: 25
|Conference||The Wildlife Society 2018 Annual Conference|
|Abbreviated title||2018 TWS Annual Conference|
|Period||10/7/18 → 10/11/18|
Morales, M. J., & Allen, M. L. (2018). Persistence in the Face of Change: Effects of Human Recreation on Coyote Habitat Use in an Altered Ecosystem. Paper presented at The Wildlife Society 2018 Annual Conference, Cleveland, United States.