Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Byerly, P. A., R. C. Lonsinger, E. M. Gese, A. J. Kozlowski, and L. P. Waits. 2018. Resource partitioning between kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis) and coyotes (Canis latrans): a comparison of historical and contemporary dietary overlap. Canadian Journal of Zoology 96:497–504. doi: 10.1139/cjz-2017-0246.


Range expansions by generalists can alter communities and introduce competitive pressures on native species. In the Great Basin Desert, USA, coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) have colonized and are now sympatric with native kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis Merriam, 1888). Since both species have similar diets, dietary partitioning may facilitate coexistence. We analyzed coyote and kit fox diets, then compared our results to an earlier study. Because populations are dynamic, we expected that decreases in prey or increases in predator abundance could alter dietary patterns. We found no significant changes in population-level prey diversity for kit foxes or coyotes, but found high levels of dietary overlap between species. We did detect a significant decrease in the relative importance of leporids (family Leporidae) in the diets of both canids, but they remained important for coyotes. The relative importance of small mammals was greater for kit foxes than coyotes, but their importance had not changed significantly over time. We detected significant declines in prey diversity per sample (scat-level dietary diversity) for both canids, suggesting that during a foraging event, individuals may encounter less diverse prey now than historically. These findings suggested that kit foxes and coyotes were not limited by prey, despite high dietary overlap.