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

 

Date of this Version

May 2007

Comments

Published in JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 71(4):1125–1133; 2007.

Abstract

Although numerous studies have examined habitat use by raccoons (Procyon lotor), information regarding seasonal habitat selection related to resource availability in agricultural landscapes is lacking for this species. Additionally, few studies using radiotelemetry have investigated habitat selection at multiple spatial scales or core-use areas by raccoons. We examined seasonal habitat selection of 55 (31 M, 24 F) adult raccoons at 3 hierarchical orders defined by the movement behavior of this species (second-order home range, second-order core-use area, and third-order home range) in northern Indiana, USA, from May 2003 to June 2005. Using compositional analysis, we assessed whether habitat selection differed from random and ranked habitat types in order of selection during the crop growing period (season 1) and corn maturation period (season 2), which represented substantial shifts in resource availability to raccoons. Habitat rankings differed across hierarchical orders, between seasons within hierarchical orders, and between sexes within seasons; however, seasonal and intersexual patterns of habitat selection were not consistent across hierarchical orders of spatial scale. When nonrandom utilization was detected, both sexes consistently selected forest cover over other available habitats. Seasonal differences in habitat selection were most evident at the core-area scale, where raccoon selection of agricultural lands was highest during the maturation season when corn was available as a direct food source. Habitat use did not differ from availability for either sex in either season at the third-order scale. The selection of forest cover across both seasons and all spatial orders suggested that raccoon distribution and abundance in fragmented landscapes is likely dependent on the availability and distribution of forest cover, or habitats associated with forest (i.e., water), within the landscape. The lack of consistency in habitat selection across hierarchical scales further exemplifies the need to examine multiple biological scales in habitat-selection studies.

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