Raccoon Use of Den Trees and Plant Associations in Western Mesophytic Forests: Tree Attributes and Availability or Landscape Heterogeneity?


We monitored 15 radio-collared raccoons (Procyon lotor) on Davies Island in March 1987 - May 1988 to determine the extent to which individual tree attributes or spatial configuration of plant associations (habitat types) across the landscape influenced den use. Of 1091 verified den sites, 428 were in tree cavities. Raccoon occurrence among 4 cover types differed from that expected based on the total area of each across the island and varied across all seasons for all habitat types except Cedar Wood. Preference varied among age and sex groups and across seasons with some groups showing opposite selection for the same cover type in different seasons. Species and diameter-class distributions of selected den trees differed from a random sample of trees across the landscape. Species composition of trees with cavities also differed from the species composition across the study area. American beech (Fagus grandifolia—relative abundance 8.7%) was over-represented in the sample of trees with cavities (29.4%) and trees selected as dens (65%); diameter at breast height (dbh) of beech den trees averaged 80.0 cm, whereas all beech trees averaged 71.2 cm. For all species combined, mean dbh of den trees was 78.4 cm as compared to trees with cavities (67.6 cm), or all trees (50.4 cm). The relative availability of large, cavity-prone tree species was related to previous logging practices.

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W. Smith and K. Endres, "Raccoon Use of Den Trees and Plant Associations in Western Mesophytic Forests: Tree Attributes and Availability or Landscape Heterogeneity?," Natural Resources, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2012, pp. 75-87. doi: 10.4236/nr.2012.33012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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