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Raccoon Vigilance and Activity Patterns When Sympatric with Coyotes

Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 341;
Received: 30 June 2020 / Revised: 29 August 2020 / Accepted: 1 September 2020 / Published: 4 September 2020
Nonconsumptive effects of predators potentially have negative fitness consequences on prey species through changes in prey behavior. Coyotes (Canis latrans) recently expanded into the eastern United States, and raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a common mesocarnivore that potentially serve as competitors and food for coyotes. We used camera traps at baited sites to quantify vigilance behavior of feeding raccoons and used binomial logistic regression to analyze the effects of social and environmental factors. Additionally, we created raccoon and coyote activity patterns from the camera trap data by fitting density functions based on circular statistics and calculating the coefficient of overlap (Δ). Overall, raccoons were vigilant 46% of the time while foraging at baited sites. Raccoons were more vigilant during full moon and diurnal hours but less vigilant as group size increased and when other species were present. Raccoons and coyotes demonstrated nocturnal activity patterns, with coyotes more likely to be active during daylight hours. Overall, raccoons did not appear to exhibit high levels of vigilance. Activity pattern results provided further evidence that raccoons do not appear to fear coyotes, as both species were active at the same time and showed a high degree of overlap (Δ = 0.75) with little evidence of temporal segregation in activity. Thus, our study indicates that nonconsumptive effects of coyotes on raccoons are unlikely, which calls into question the ability of coyotes to initiate strong trophic cascades through some mesocarnivores. View Full-Text
Keywords: activity pattern; camera trap; coyote; fear; mesopredator release; raccoon; trophic cascade; vigilance activity pattern; camera trap; coyote; fear; mesopredator release; raccoon; trophic cascade; vigilance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chitwood, M.C.; Lashley, M.A.; Higdon, S.D.; DePerno, C.S.; Moorman, C.E. Raccoon Vigilance and Activity Patterns When Sympatric with Coyotes. Diversity 2020, 12, 341.

AMA Style

Chitwood MC, Lashley MA, Higdon SD, DePerno CS, Moorman CE. Raccoon Vigilance and Activity Patterns When Sympatric with Coyotes. Diversity. 2020; 12(9):341.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chitwood, M. C., Marcus A. Lashley, Summer D. Higdon, Christopher S. DePerno, and Christopher E. Moorman 2020. "Raccoon Vigilance and Activity Patterns When Sympatric with Coyotes" Diversity 12, no. 9: 341.

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