The influence of anthropogenic resources on multi-scale habitat selection by raccoons
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- Bozek, C.K., Prange, S. & Gehrt, S.D. Urban Ecosyst (2007) 10: 413. doi:10.1007/s11252-007-0033-8
With the continuing spread of urban areas, gaining a greater understanding of the effect of human presence on wildlife species is essential for wildlife managers. We determined the influence of anthropogenic resources on home range size and habitat selection of raccoons (Procyon lotor) during summer (June–August) 1996–2000 for 120 raccoons at three sites exposed to varying levels of urbanization and anthropogenic resources, specifically food. Home range estimates were larger (P < 0.05) at the rural site than the suburban and urban sites for both genders. We used compositional analysis to examine raccoon habitat selection at the second-order home range, second-order core area, and third-order home range scales. Woodland was consistently a highly-selected habitat type for both sexes at every spatial scale. Relative to other habitat types, habitat associated with human-related food (human use areas) was selected most often at the urban site, intermediately at the suburban site, and not selected at the rural site. Spatial scale also affected habitat selection. Human use areas were preferentially selected at the second- and third-order level at the urban site, third-order level only at the suburban site, and at neither level at the rural site. Additionally, intersexual differences in habitat selection were reduced at the urban site, with both sexes preferentially selecting for human use areas as well as woodland habitat. Smaller home ranges in urbanized environments are often attributed to the abundant and concentrated anthropogenic resources associated with human activity, but with little empirical support. Our habitat selection analyses followed our predictions that raccoon foraging is strongly influenced by the artificial distribution and abundance of human-related food. Male and female raccoons in urban areas reduce their foraging patterns and focus their foraging activity on anthropogenic foods.