Abstract

Title:  Factors Affecting Coyote Diets in Northeastern North Carolina
Author(s): Joseph W. Hinton - University of Georgia; Michael J. Chamberlain - University of Georgia
Year: 2014
Abstract: Foraging behaviors of coyotes are complex and they have been described as generalists or opportunistic foragers. We assessed factors affecting prey selection of coyotes in northeastern North Carolina and found them to be largely carnivorous with a narrow dietary breadth. Approximately 90% of prey remains found in coyote scat were rabbits, white-tailed deer, and small mammals, whereas coyote use of birds, fruit, human refuse, and insects was <8% of their diet. Deer comprised 30% of coyote diet and were consumed more during winter than summer (37.5% vs. 22.7%). We assessed factors influencing the diets of 13 coyote groups and included several variables (i.e., body weight and age of coyotes) that have not been used in analyses of scat remains to account for variation in diet. Assessing generalized linear models (GLMs) using stepwise procedures that calculate Akaike information criterion (AICc), we found coyote weight and season were important factors influencing diets of coyotes. The positive relationship between coyote consumption of deer and coyote body weight implies that body size is an important trait for coyotes to acquire deer in their diet through predation. Diets of eastern coyotes have lain at the heart of the species’ impact on eastern ecosystems and comprehensive studies of coyote diet that include factors influencing its variation will allow us to understand the coyote’s ecological role in the Southeast.

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