Individual and temporal variation in habitat association of an alien carnivore at its invasion front
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Original versionPLoS ONE 2015, 10(3) 10.1371/journal.pone.0122492
Gathering information on how invasive species utilize the habitat is important, in order to better aim actions to reduce their negative impact. We studied habitat use and selection of 55 GPS-marked raccoon dogs (30 males, 25 females) at their invasion front in Northern Sweden, with particular focus on differences between males and females, between movement states, and between seasons and times of the day. Daily movement pattern was used to classify GPS-locations into dispersing and settled. We focused on both anthropogenic and natural landscape characteristics. Since we did not have any a priori knowledge about the spatial scale of raccoon dog habitat selection, we first assessed how landscape characteristics of random points changed with distance from the GPS-location they were paired to. Because changes in habitat use became less pronounced at approximately 5 km for all variables, we focused on habitat use at two spatial scales: fine (500 m) and coarse (5 km). Habitat selection was strongest at the coarse scale, and reflected the results found for habitat use. Raccoon dogs selected agricultural areas and wetlands, lower altitudes, and shallow slopes, and avoided forests, open natural areas, and areas close to water and roads. There were no differences in habitat selection between males and females, or between movement states. This lack of sexual segregation increases the probability of encountering potential mates during dispersal, and therefore the likelihood for reproduction in new areas. The seasonal and diurnal pattern of habitat use may provide guidance for where and when to aim management efforts.