Relationships Between Landscape Characteristics and Space Use of Raccoons in Two Managed Pine Forests

Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are ecological generalists that use a variety of landscape and habitat types. Although space and habitat use are well understood for raccoons throughout the southeastern United States, relationships between space use and landscape characteristics are not. We examined relationships between space use and landscape characteristics for 95 radio-marked raccoons monitored during 1996-1997 on two adjacent forested landscapes that differed in forest management strategies. We noted relationships between space use and patch richness, proportion and size of riparian habitats on the landscape, and size of patches providing soft mast resources. Raccoons within an intensively-managed forest maintained spaces with reduced patch richness and less of the landscape in riparian habitats, likely attributable to forest management strategies that optimize wood fiber production. However, raccoons within this system consistently maintained spaces with larger patch sizes of riparian habitats and habitats containing soft mast (early successional plant communities). Our findings suggest that raccoons living on landscapes with intensive forest management select larger patch sizes of quality habitats relative to raccoons living on forested landscapes with less intensive management regimes. Because raccoons in intensively-managed forests may maintain smaller spaces than raccoons in other forested systems and appear to be influenced by landscape patterns, managers should recognize influences of forest management practices on raccoon behavior.

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