Human disturbance affects latrine-use patterns of raccoon dogs
Tsunoda M., Kaneko Y., Sako T., Koizumi R., Iwasaki K., Mitsuhashi I., Saito MU., Hisano M., Newman C., Macdonald DW., Buesching CD.
© The Wildlife Society, 2018 Although urbanization is a leading threat to wildlife conservation, some species have adapted to a synanthropic lifestyle. We used a population of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in the Akasaka Imperial Grounds in central Tokyo, Japan to investigate how latrine-using carnivores can maintain their socio-spatial organization with human disturbance. Between 2012 and 2014, we selected 4–11 latrines per year (from a max. of 18 latrines recorded in the area) using 1 camera per latrine. We focused on latrines that included varying levels of human disturbance. We analyzed the temporal patterns of 3,257 latrine visits, of which 878 included defecation events. Overall, latrine use (i.e., visits with and without defecation events) increased as winter approached, coinciding with dispersal, and showed a seasonal shift from diurnal to nocturnal use patterns as days got shorter. Generalized linear mixed model results confirmed that temporal visiting and defecation patterns were affected by human disturbance and shifted from diurnal to nocturnal, although overall frequency of visits and defecation events did not decrease at disturbed latrines and raccoon dogs continued to use disturbed latrine sites. Raccoon dogs likely perceive human disturbance as predation risk and avoided this by shifting their temporal, but not spatial, activity pattern to minimize disturbance. Minimizing the amount of disturbance around raccoon-dog latrines at sensitive sites and times of day would allow them to co-exist with people with the minimal compromise to their latrine-centered socio-spatial organization. © 2018 The Wildlife Society.