Date of this Version
Scientific Reports (2023) 13: 22944
The small Indian mongoose (Urva auropunctata) is the primary terrestrial wildlife rabies reservoir on at least four Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, mongooses represent a risk to public health, based on direct human exposure and indirectly through the transmission of rabies virus to domestic animals. To date, the fundamental ecological relationships of space use among mongooses and between mongooses and domestic animals remain poorly understood. This study is the first to report mongoose home range estimates based on GPS telemetry, as well as concurrent space use among mongooses and free roaming domestic dogs (FRDD; Canis lupus familiaris). Mean (± SE) home range estimates from 19 mongooses in this study (145 ± 21 ha and 60 ± 14 ha for males and females, respectively) were greater than those reported in prior radiotelemetry studies in Puerto Rico. At the scale of their home range, mongooses preferentially used dry forest and shrubland areas, but tended to avoid brackish water vegetation, salt marshes, barren lands and developed areas. Home ranges from five FRDDs were highly variable in size (range 13–285 ha) and may be influenced by availability of reliable anthropogenic resources. Mongooses displayed high home range overlap (general overlap index, GOI = 82%). Home range overlap among mongooses and FRDDs was intermediate (GOI = 50%) and greater than home range overlap by FRDDs (GOI = 10%). Our results provide evidence that space use by both species presents opportunities for interspecific interaction and contact and suggests that human provisioning of dogs may play a role in limiting interactions between stray dogs and mongooses.
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