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Diet and Feeding Ecology of Coyotes in Western Virginia By David Montague.

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Presentation on theme: "Diet and Feeding Ecology of Coyotes in Western Virginia By David Montague."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diet and Feeding Ecology of Coyotes in Western Virginia By David Montague

2 Historic Range

3 Historic Range – circa 1900

4 Eastern Range Expansion

5 Current Range: 2011

6 Are they different? Western Coyote:Eastern Coyote:

7 Potential hybridization? Photo: Joseph Hinton

8 What We Know Extremely adaptable! Expanding in range and population Increasing concerns for human-coyote conflicts Few studies in the eastern U.S. relative to west No large-scale studies of coyotes in Virginia

9 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance

10 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet

11 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators

12 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators Effect on prey species

13 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators Effect on prey species Disease ecology

14 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators Effect on prey species Disease ecology Habitat use and movement

15 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators Effect on prey species Disease ecology Habitat use and movement Home range size and territoriality

16 Unknown in Virginia: Population density and abundance Diet Interaction with other predators Effect on prey species Disease Ecology Habitat use and movement Home range size and territoriality

17 Study Area Counties of: Augusta Bath Highland Rockingham Land Ownership: George Washington NF Little North Mtn WMA Highland WMA Warms Springs Mtn Preserve (TNC) Private Land

18 Study Area Reasons: Early coyote establishment Perceived lower deer density Possibility for additive mortality?

19 Objective 1: Determine seasonal dietary patterns of coyotes and black bears in western Virginia and assess the potential for interspecific competition in the predation of white-tailed deer.

20 Methods for Objective 1: Scat collection! Transects on dirt roads and trails Range of habitats including forest and agricultural Monthly visits to transects Total: 80 km of transect Scat ID by morphology and DNA

21 Methods for Objective 1: Lab procedures: – Air dry for storage – Soak and wash through a series of sieves – Dissect for hair, teeth, bones, claws, seeds, etc.

22 Objective 1 Data Analysis: Techniques following Lemons et al. (2010) Scat contents treated as detection/non- detection Occupancy format Modeled in Programs MARK and PRESENCE IDDeerVegMammalBirdOther

23 Objective 2: Estimate density of prey species in western Virginia and relate prey density to rate of predation by coyotes.

24 Potential Prey: Based on the literature… Common prey: – Small mammals – Soft mast – Deer – Mid-sized mammals Less common prey: – Insects – Birds/eggs – Livestock – Crops

25 Potential Prey: Based on the literature… Common prey: – Small mammals – Soft mast – Deer – Mid-sized mammals Less common prey: – Insects – Birds/eggs – Livestock – Crops Varies considerably!!!

26 Small Mammals

27 Capture, mark- recapture Trapping with Sherman live traps Mark with ear tags Compare habitats/sites Four trap sessions per year 5 days per session

28 Small Mammals m

29 Soft Mast

30 Sampling for % cover and % mast production 200 meter permanent, line- intercept transects Monthly visits May – October

31 White-tailed Deer

32 Distance sampling Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) – Nighttime sampling – Increased detections – May reduce flushing © 2011 FLIR Systems.

33 White-tailed Deer Distance sampling Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) – Nighttime sampling – Increased detections – May reduce flushing © 2011 FLIR Systems. Photo: Daryl Ratajczak

34 Mid-sized Mammals Remote camera trapping Determines habitat use, not population density

35 Objective 2 Data Analysis: Small mammals – Program MARK – Covariates: habitat, season, succession, etc. Soft mast Deer – Program DISTANCE – Must have minimum number of detections Mid-sized mammals – Program MARK or PRESENCE – Detection/non-detection format

36 Objective 3: Determine the seasonal prevalence of intestinal parasites of coyotes in western Virginia and the relationship between parasite burden and diet.

37 Objective 3 Methods: Field Methods: – Scat collection along diet transects – One week intervals – 4 times per year Lab Methods: – Fecal flotation Data Analysis: – Modeled in MARK like diet – Parasite species richness – Prevalence – Comparisons with diet, sex, habitat, site, etc. © CDC Image Library

38 Expected Outcomes Mitigation of human-coyote conflicts – Additive deer mortality? – Livestock depredations Improved management of coyotes and prey Better understanding of habitat treatment effects on coyotes and prey Prevention of zoonotic and epizootic events

39 Potential Challenges Too much scat!!! – Requires subsampling Misidentification of scats Problems with genetic ID Poor correlation of scat location and habitat use Parasite sample contamination from environment

40 Acknowledgements Committee: Dr. Marcella Kelly Dr. Jim Parkhurst Dr. Kathy Alexander Dr. Anne Zajac Mike Fies (VDGIF) Special thanks: Dr. Carol Croy (USFS) Marek Smith (TNC) Chad Fox (APHIS) Lauren Mastro (APHIS) Dr. Lisette Waits WHAPA Lab

41 Questions? + =


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