Graduation Date

Fall 2020

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Barbara Clucas

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Daniel Barton

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Angela Baker

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Fourth Committee Member Name

Dr. Brett Furnas

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories

Wildlife

Abstract

Mammalian mesopredators commonly associated with human dominated landscapes often exhibit generalist diets, behavioral plasticity, and relatively high reproductive rates. Because of this wide range of adaptive traits, ecologists have been speculative of what conditions may drive species to change their activity and behavior to avoid or mitigate against resource competition, intraguild predation, and human disturbance. I investigated a community of common mesopredators within the Sacramento Metropolitan Area of California’s Central Valley to address whether species are spatially and/or temporally partitioning due to a defacto apex predator, coyotes (Canis latrans), and humans alongside large landscape altering disturbances: urbanization and drought. I used single species occupancy models and temporal overlap analyses to evaluate raccoon (Procyon lotor), opossum (Didelphis virginiana), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), domestic cat (Felis catus), and coyote spatiotemporal activity following drought and recovery across 2016, 2017, and 2019 as well as their response to varying scales of urban intensity post drought. Coyote activity was more diurnal and varied during the drought, with coyotes overlapping with nocturnal mesopredators near water sources following drought recovery. Coyotes and skunks avoided humans and increased temporal overlap post drought. Opossums and raccoons were associated to wetlands during the drought but were the most wide-ranging species across urban intensities. Cats were the most urban tolerant, while coyotes were least urban tolerant. My results suggest mesopredators avoid humans across urban intensities while still benefiting from urban resources. Coyotes may influence mesopredators primarily in non-urban areas, while drought and urban residences may lessen mesopredator fear of intraguild predation.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management

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