Population Ecology

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 349–358 | Cite as

Population-level response of coyotes to a pulsed resource event

  • Tyler R. Petroelje
  • Jerrold L. Belant
  • Dean E. BeyerJr.
  • Guiming Wang
  • Bruce D. Leopold
Original article


From foraging theory, generalist predators should increase consumption of prey if prey availability increases. Pulsed resource events introduce a large influx of prey to predators that may exhibit a functional response of increased consumption rate on, or specialization to, this abundant food resource. We predicted that coyotes (Canis latrans) would respond functionally to numerical increases of neonate white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) during the pulsed resource event of parturition. We used howl surveys and deer camera surveys with occupancy modeling to estimate densities for coyotes, adult deer, and fawns, respectively, in Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, 2009–2011. We estimated biomass of adult and fawn deer consumed by coyotes during 2 periods [fawn limited mobility period (LMP) and social mobility period (SMP)] in May–August each year. Coyote densities were 0.32 and 0.37/km2 for 2010–2011, respectively. Adult deer densities (3.7–3.9/km2) and fawn densities (0.6–1.3/km2) were similar across years. Overall, fawn hair occurrence in coyote scats was 2.3 times greater in LMP than SMP. Estimated consumption of fawns between periods (n = 157–880) by coyotes varied, suggesting a functional response, with increasing consumption of fawns relative to their availability. Coyotes, on average, consumed 2.2 times greater biomass of fawns than adults across years, and consumed 1.5 times greater fawn biomass, on average, during LMP than SMP. We suggest that consumption rates of coyotes is associated positively with increases in fawn density, and fawn consumption by coyotes follows predictions of optimal foraging theory during this pulsed resource event.


Canis latrans Consumption Foraging theory Functional response Odocoileus virginianus 



Safari Club International (SCI) Foundation, SCI Michigan Involvement Committee, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Federal Aid in Restoration Act under Pittman-Robertson project W-147-R and Mississippi State University’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center provided funding. We thank R. Chandler for assistance with analysis and N. Svoboda, J. Duquette, H. Stricker, J. Fosdick, T. Swearingen, D. Norton, E. O’Donnell, C. Brazil, T. Guthrie, and all Michigan predator–prey technicians for field assistance.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler R. Petroelje
    • 1
  • Jerrold L. Belant
    • 1
  • Dean E. BeyerJr.
    • 2
  • Guiming Wang
    • 3
  • Bruce D. Leopold
    • 1
  1. 1.Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research CenterMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Wildlife DivisionMichigan Department of Natural ResourcesMarquetteUSA
  3. 3.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA

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