"SCOUTING": THE ROLE OF SUMMER MOVEMENTS ON INFORMATION GATHERING FOR WINTER HABITAT BY NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINES.
Pairsa N. Belamaric; Humboldt State University; 1 Harpst St, Arcata, CA, 95521; (206) 718-4948; pairsa.belamaric@humboldt.edu; William T. Bean
Species are often challenged by periodic changes in food availability and habitat quality, which may provide strong selective pressure for animals to strategically "scout" for important resources when exploratory movements are less costly. North American porcupines experience a drastic shift in forage quality from summer - a time of abundant, high quality forage - to winter, a nutritional bottleneck. Evidence from GPS and telemetry data in northwestern California suggest that porcupines may be "scouting" for food or cover during the summer to inform selection of habitat during winter when movement is costly. To monitor and compare porcupine use of winter habitat between seasons, we deployed 30 camera traps under evergreen trees in the dunes from May 2017 to March 2018. Some trees were experimentally baited with apples and salt in a 5 gallon bucket during one or both seasons, to determine if supplementing trees with desirable food and shelter during summer would increase the probability of those trees being visited during winter. Structural and nutritional qualities of each tree were also quantified and included in models, along with baiting treatment and season, to determine which factors best predict observed rates of visitation by porcupines.
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