Spatial Use Patterns, Seasonal Habitat Selection, and Interactions among Adult Gray Foxes in Mississippi

  • Chamberlain M
  • Leopold B
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Abstract

Knowledge of spatial use, habitat selection, moments, and survival of gray foxes (Urocyon cinerevargenteus) is essential for through ecological understanding and successful management of the species. Additionally, information detailing intraspecific spatial and temporal relationships is necessary to understand potential territorial and social behavior among individuals. We radiomonitored 37 (17 M, 20 F) adult gray foxes from 1991-97 in central Mississippi. Size of home range and core area did not differ between sexes, but did among seasons. Home range overlap was greatest fbr males and females sharing home ranges and least for neighboring males. Core area overlap was negligible, except for males and females who shared home ranges and were suspected of forming pair bonds. Habitat selection was similar between sexes and across seasons at all spatial scales. Home ranges and core areas of gray foxes contained greater proportions of mature pine (greater than or equal to 30 yr, Pinus spp.) habitats than available. Gray foxes consistently selected habitats that contained an abundance of small mammals. Movement rates were similar between sexes, but not across seasons or diel periods. Pair members frequently traveled together within their home ranges; however, neighboring males and females did not interact closely, suggesting a mutual avoidance reaction (territoriality). Annual survival rates were similar between sexes and across years. Our results suggest that spatial use patterns are not sex-specific and habitat selection is not sex- or season-specific. However, gray foxes in our study exhibited differential movements within home ranges according to season, suggesting that although habitats used were seasonally similar, foraging patterns within these areas differed.

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Authors

  • Michael J. Chamberlain

  • Bruce D. Leopold

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