Spatial response of coyotes to removal of water availability at anthropogenic water sites

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Journal of Arid Environments





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Features containing year-round availability of free water (hereafter water sites) and areas affiliated with water sites (i.e., riparian zones) occurring within arid landscapes represent a potential limiting resource for some desert dwelling vertebrates. Little is known about the relationship between water sites and mammalian carnivores. An increase of water sites in portions of the Great Basin Desert in Utah reportedly contributed to an increase in coyote (Canis latrans) abundance. We examined frequency of visitation and spatial affinity of resident coyotes for water sites at the home range scale extent. Visitation to sites with available water averaged 13.0 visitations/season (SD = 13.5) and ranged from zero to 47. We documented no visits to water sites in 16% (10 of 64) of seasonal home-ranges,39% (25 of 64) of home ranges, and 25% (28 of 113) of coyote home-ranges did not contain a water site. Water sites associated with riparian vegetation experienced higher visitation than guzzlers (no riparian vegetation present). We found no evidence that removal of water influenced home range size or spatial shifting of home range areas. Water sites, especially guzzlers, do not represent a pivotal resource for the coyote population in our study area.