Behaviour 2019
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.