COMPETITIVE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN DESERT KIT FOXES (VULPES MACROTIS ARSIPUS) AND COYOTES (CANIS LATRANS) IN THE MOJAVE DESERT.
Erica C. Kelly; CSU Stanislaus, Endangered Species Recovery Program ; One University Circle, Turlock, CA, 95382; (661) 835-7810; ekelly@esrp.csustan.edu; Brian L. Cypher, David J. Germano, Paul T. Smith
We assessed competitive interactions between desert kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis arsipus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Mojave Desert in California from 2009-2014.  We analyzed food item use by the two canids relative to prey abundance to assess exploitative competition and used camera stations to investigate interference competition. Desert kit foxes and coyotes consumed many of the same food items, but generally in different proportions. Kit foxes primarily consumed rodents and invertebrates while coyotes primarily consumed lagomorphs and rodents. Desert kit foxes consistently had lower dietary diversity than coyotes, indicating that desert kit foxes are more specialist consumers while coyotes are more generalist. Differences in item proportions and specialization may ameliorate exploitative competition. We also found that desert kit foxes and coyotes did not appear to partition habitat on a landscape scale resulting in potential for interference competition. Strategies such as den use by foxes may be sufficient to reduce such competition and maintain coexistence. Competition may increase in drought years when foods are less available. Also, competitive interactions could be altered as human disturbance increases in the Mojave Desert (e.g., subsidization of coyotes with anthropogenic foods).
Ecology and Conservation of Mammals III