|Natal habitat preference induction and the habitat choices of the coyote, an urban adapter|
|Emily Zepeda1, Eric Payne1, Andy Sih1, Stanley Gehrt2. 1University of California Davis, Davis, CA, United States; 2Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States
In urban habitats, population-level dynamics important for a species’ persistence, including immigration and genetic structure, are impacted by the animals’ habitat preferences. Natal habitat preference induction (NHPI) is the process in which individuals develop a preference for their pre-dispersal habitat. Theory suggests that NHPI is beneficial because an organism is more likely to choose a habitat for which it has learned important environmental cues (e.g. cues pertaining to food and predators) and developed an adaptive phenotype. While this process has been demonstrated in a number of species, its role in the habitat choice of a highly-adaptable, generalist species living in the urban matrix has not been explored. We use radio-telemetry to identify and compare the natal and adult habitat types within home ranges of coyotes (Canis latrans) in northeast Illinois. We predict that NHPI will result in a strong correlation between natal and adult habitat types for coyotes originating from natural habitats, while coyotes originating in urban habitats exhibit a weaker correlation between habitats at these different life stages due to innate preferences for natural habitats.