U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Mammalian Biology (2021) 101:619–630



U.S. government work


During the last half-century, the distribution of golden jackals (Canis aureus) has rapidly increased throughout Europe. Today, golden jackals are thriving in human-dominated landscapes across Southeastern and Central Europe. Most studies on golden jackals have focused on large-scale distribution patterns; to date, little is known about the species’ fine-scale spatial ecology. In this study, we analyzed the movement behavior, space-use and resource selection of six golden jackals fitted with GPS-GSM collars in two study areas in Hungary and Serbia. Two of the jackals were a breeding pair. We found that home range size averaged 11.2 km2 (90% autocorrelated kernel density estimation), and was characterized by significant individual-level variability (range 1.3–32.5 km2). Golden jackal movements and resource selection were strongly influenced by circadian patterns: during the day, jackals travelled an average of 300 m every 6 h, and all monitored individuals selected for vegetation cover, often near edges. At night, golden jackals travelled significantly further (1 km 6 h−1), and were more likely to venture outside of cover into agricultural areas. Movement analysis of the breeding pair revealed that the male and female tended to remain in close proximity during the day, but ranged more independently at night. Altogether, our findings suggest that golden jackals’ ability to thrive in human-dominated landscapes rely on a fine spatio-temporal avoidance of humans.