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Total energy budget and prey requirements of free-ranging coyotes in the Great Basin desert of the western United States

Instituto de Ecologı́a, A.C., Centro Regional Durango, km 5 carr. Durango-Mazatlan, 34100 Durango, Dgo, Mexico
Journal of Arid Environments (Impact Factor: 1.82). 12/2003; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-1963(02)00316-6

ABSTRACT Estimates of energetic demands for carnivore species can be valuable for estimating their annual prey requirements and thus, their potential impact on prey populations. This is the case for the coyote (Canis latrans) which has a ubiquitous distribution and preys on a wide variety of wild and domestic prey species. We took data on daily activity of coyotes and with standard energy models, estimated the daily field metabolic rate (FMR) of adult male and female coyotes in the Great Basin desert of the western United States. We then calculated the total annual energy demand and from this, extrapolated annual prey needs for lagomorph and rodent-sized prey. Daily FMR of male coyotes in the Great Basin desert averaged 1170.1 kcal±29.1, S.E. (n=11) and was significantly higher than 988.6 kcal±44.3 (n=8) for females (p=0.002). The highest reproductive cost for females was lactation (1441.1 kcal/day above FMR). Males and females need to consume 192 and 162 lagomorphs, or 3681 and 3110 rodents/year, respectively. For reproduction, females should consume 37 more lagomorphs or 700 more rodents per year. We concluded that preference for lagomorphs by coyotes reflects the most reasonable energy return on their hunting investment.

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