Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 279–287 | Cite as

Experimental examination of behavioural interactions between free-ranging wild and domestic canids

  • Abi Tamim Vanak
  • Maria Thaker
  • Matthew E. Gompper
Original Paper


The structure of mammalian carnivore communities is strongly influenced by both intraguild competition and predation. However, intraguild interactions involving the world’s most common carnivore, the domestic dog (Canis familiaris), have rarely been investigated. We experimentally examined the behavioural responses of a small canid, the Indian fox (Vulpes bengalensis), to the presence of dogs and dog odours. Resource competition between dogs and Indian foxes is low, so it is unclear whether foxes perceive dogs as interference competitors. To test this, we exposed foxes to neutral, live dog, and animal odour stimuli at food trays, and recorded the time spent at food trays, the amount of food eaten, and vigilance and non-vigilance behaviours. When dogs were visible, foxes continued to visit the food trays, but reduced the amount of time spent and food eaten at those trays. Foxes were more vigilant during dog trials than during neutral and odour trials and also exhibited lower levels of non-vigilance behaviour (resting and playing). In contrast, dog odours did not affect fox foraging and activity. These results show that vigilance/foraging trade-offs due to interference competition can occur between native and domestic carnivores despite low dietary overlap. These negative effects of dogs on a smaller member of the carnivore guild raise conservation concerns, especially for endangered carnivores. In many parts of the world, free-ranging dog densities are high due to human subsidies, and these subsidized predators have the potential to exacerbate the indirect effects of human presence.


Intraguild interaction Free-ranging dogs Resource avoidance Foraging-vigilance trade-off Carnivore conservation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abi Tamim Vanak
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maria Thaker
    • 2
    • 3
  • Matthew E. Gompper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyIndiana State UniversityTerre HauteUSA
  3. 3.School of Biological and Conservation SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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