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

McTigue, L.E., E.V. Lassiter, M. Shaw, E. Johansson, K. Wilson, and B.A. DeGregorio. 2023. Does daily activity overlap of mesocarnivores vary with human development? PLoS One.


Predation and competition can influence the behavior and activity patterns of co-occurring species. Often subordinate species will alter their activity patterns to avoid being active at the same time as larger, dominant species. Human development can complicate interspecies interactions, as not all wildlife responds to human activity in the same manner. While some species may alter their activity to avoid being active when humans are, others may be unaffected or may benefit from being active at the same time as humans to reduce predation risk or competition. To further explore this phenomenon, we used data from a coordinated national camera-trapping program (Snapshot USA) to explore the temporal activity overlap of a large, dominant mesocarnivore, the coyote (Canis latrans) with two subordinate species, Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) and Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor) along a gradient of human development. We found all three species to be predominantly nocturnal and while the subordinate species showed modest changes to their activity patterns in response to increasing human development, the dominant coyote did not alter activity patterns in response to surrounding development. As a result, temporal activity overlap was generally high between all species regardless of development. It appears that competitive and predatory pressures between these three generalist species were insufficient to cause any of them to strongly alter their activity patterns.