Movements and habitat selection of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in a mosaic landscape
Saeki M., Johnson PJ., Macdonald DW.
To test how interindividual variation in response to resource availability might reveal mechanisms leading to interpopulation variation across the geographic range of a species, we investigated movement patterns and use of space by 18 radiocollared raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides viveninus) in a mixed landscape of agriculture and forestry that is widely distributed in Japan, and that is a typical landscape for raccoon dogs. We tested the idea that the behavior of raccoon dogs, as ecological generalists, is sufficiently plastic for individual movement patterns to match habitat variation in this landscape. Home ranges averaged 111 ha (95% kernel estimate), much larger than previously reported for this species in Japan, and varied greatly among individuals (23-228 ha). Home ranges were 62.5% larger in autumn than in other seasons, and 33.5% larger for subadults than for adults. Average movement rate tended to be higher in autumn (mean rate = 297 m/h), and lowest in winter (mean rate = 204 m/h). Within the population, some individuals occupied home ranges that were predominantly seminatural (we refer to these animals as "mountain type"), whereas those of others were dominated by heavily managed habitats (these we term "village type"). Within their home ranges, the types showed preferences for the habitats that were most prevalent there. Mountain-type individuals showed a preference for herbaceous habitat, whereas the village-type individuals used cropland disproportionately. Activity, as measured by the proportion of fixes designated active, tended to be lower in home ranges where cropland was predominant, and the magnitude of preference for cropland increased with its availability with the home range, suggesting a functional response to habitat availability. The fractal dimension of movement trails was more complex in seminatural areas than in agricultural land, possibly reflecting greater spatial regularity of agricultural habitat. © 2007 American Society of Mammalogists.