Identifier

etd-05092007-150605

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In the southeastern United States, industrial agriculture dominates the landscape, and much of the native land cover is in decline. Longleaf pine forests were once a dominant ecosystem in this region, but have largely disappeared. However, little research has been conducted on how this loss affects wildlife, especially mammalian predators. With increasing restoration efforts for longleaf pine it is important to assess the impact on species that inhabit those landscapes. Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are native to the Southeast, but are adaptable to a wide range of habitats. Therefore, during 2002-2006 I studied a population of gray foxes on land managed for longleaf pine (Ichauway plantation) and the surrounding agriculture and residential landscape. Gray fox habitat selection did not differ across seasons (P > 0.050) at any of the 3 spatial scales examined, but was non random at all scales (P ≤ 0.050). Gray foxes preferred habitat types that were rare or not available on Ichauway including residential areas, hardwood forests, and industrial agriculture. Gray foxes were largely found partially or completely off Ichauway. In fact, gray foxes that overlapped Ichauway were found closer (Λ = 12.06, P < 0.001) to the borders of Ichauway than expected. Annual survival was 0.610 ± 0.100. Sixteen deaths were documented, and human causes (i.e., vehicle collisions) accounted for most (n=10) of these. Gray fox mortality from human caused sources may have been higher than in most other populations because of the selection of anthropogenic habitat and lack of trapping. Home range sizes differed between seasons (F2,34 = 3.97, P = 0.030), with home ranges in winter (152.43 ± 32.02 ha) being larger than either breeding (91.42 ± 12.93 ha) or kit-rearing (99.68 ± 18.27 ha) seasons. Grafen’s kinship coefficient was used to examine relatedness through genetic analysis. No correlation was detected between distance of trapped gray foxes with one another and their genetic distance for either 2004-2005 or 2005-2006 (P > 0.1). Preliminary evidence suggested that closer relatives may be more apt to overlap one another’s spatial use area.

Date

2007

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael J. Chamberlain

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