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The diet of feral raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and native badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Denmark

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Abstract

The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is an East Asian Canid that has been introduced in Europe. Introduction of alien species is an increasing conservation issue. We examined the diet of a recently established raccoon dog population in Denmark by analysing stomach content in 249 carcasses collected in 2008–2016. Raccoon dog diet was compared to the diet of native badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Denmark. The most common food for raccoon dogs were invertebrates (frequency of occurrence, FO 69%), small mammals (FO 68%), birds (FO 41%), fruits (FO 38%), amphibians (FO 36%) and carrions (FO 34%). The occurrence of invertebrates was highest during spring and summer, while fruits, cereals and carrions were eaten most often during autumn and winter. As expected, raccoon dog shared the major food categories with badger and red fox, but generally, it had a wider dietary niche. Overall, dietary overlap between raccoon dog and badger was 0.74 (Pianka index, Ojk). The dietary overlap with red fox was relatively high in all seasons, peaking in summer (Ojk 0.87) and dropping in winter (Ojk 0.79). Despite the dietary overlap between the alien racoon dog and native red fox and badger, the species may coexist due to partitioning of feeding habitats and/or because the red fox is limited by other factors, e.g. diseases and anthropogenic activities. The introduced raccoon dog seems to fit a dietary niche between badger and red foxes in human-dominated landscapes in north-western Europe.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the game consultants on the Nature Agency, hunters and other naturalists for collecting and submitting raccoon dog carcasses for analysis. Thanks to the Aalborg Zoo Conservation Foundation (AZCF) and Jægernes Naturfond for providing financial support for the project, and Søren Østergaard Gertsen for identifying some of the insect species. We are grateful to two anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Morten Elmeros.

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Communicated by: Rafał Kowalczyk

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Elmeros, M., Mikkelsen, D.M.G., Nørgaard, L.S. et al. The diet of feral raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and native badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Denmark. Mamm Res 63, 405–413 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-018-0372-2

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