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PDF- Kays et al 2008, Coyote Abundance

Kays, R.W., M.E. Gompper, and J.C. Ray  2008. Landscape ecology of eastern coyotes based on large-scale estimates of abundance. Ecol. Appl., 18, 1014-1027.
Abstract. Since their range expansion into eastern North America in the mid-1900s,
coyotes (Canis latrans) have become the region’s top predator. Although widespread across
the region, coyote adaptation to eastern forests and use of the broader landscape are not well
understood. We studied the distribution and abundance of coyotes by collecting coyote feces
from 54 sites across a diversity of landscapes in and around the Adirondacks of northern New
York. We then genotyped feces with microsatellites and found a close correlation between the
number of detected individuals and the total number of scats at a site. We created habitat
models predicting coyote abundance using multi-scale vegetation and landscape data and
ranked them with an information-theoretic model selection approach. These models allow us
to reject the hypothesis that eastern forests are unsuitable habitat for coyotes as their
abundance was positively correlated with forest cover and negatively correlated with measures
of rural non-forest landscapes. However, measures of vegetation structure turned out to be
better predictors of coyote abundance than generalized ‘‘forest vs. open’’ classification. The
best supported models included those measures indicative of disturbed forest, especially more
open canopies found in logged forests, and included natural edge habitats along water courses.
These forest types are more productive than mature forests and presumably host more prey for
coyotes. A second model with only variables that could be mapped across the region
highlighted the lower density of coyotes in areas with high human settlement, as well as
positive relationships with variables such as snowfall and lakes that may relate to increased
numbers and vulnerability of deer. The resulting map predicts coyote density to be highest
along the southwestern edge of the Adirondack State Park, including Tug Hill, and lowest in
the mature forests and more rural areas of the central and eastern Adirondacks. Together,
these results support the need for a nuanced view of how eastern coyotes use forested habitats.
Key words: abundance; Adirondack State Park, New York; Canis latrans; eastern coyote; fecal DNA;
landscape ecology; noninvasive survey.