COS 59-10
Influence of the cognitive map on patterns of coyote resource selection

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 11:10 AM
303, Baltimore Convention Center
E. Hance Ellington, ENLS, Trent University
Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau, ENLS, Trent University
Dennis Murray, Biology, Trent University

There have been important strides made in understanding how cognitive maps, or spatial memory, can influence animal movements and space use. Theoretically, the development and maintenance of a cognitive map should accrue fitness benefits, but empirical links between spatial memory, resource use, and fitness are lacking. Using GPS telemetry, we examined patterns of resource selection and avoidance of 62 coyotes (Canis latrans) from 2008-2013 in Newfoundland, Canada that displayed three distinct space use strategies: residency (n = 22), exploratory residency (n = 40), and transience (n = 20). We defined space use strategies using a combination of asymptotic analysis, net-squared displacement analysis, and visual inspection of movement paths. We used a step-selection function to generate available locations and used conditional logistic regression to generate resource selection functions using land cover classes, linear features, and areas with a high density of large ungulate hunting activity. 


Resident coyotes, which should have developed cognitive maps of their home ranges, selected or avoided land cover features at the landscape scale more strongly than transient coyotes. At the local scale, space use strategy did not influence patterns of resource selection or avoidance; this was expected given that the local scale was within the range of sensory perception of coyotes. Resident and exploratory resident coyotes responded to temporally-limited resources indexed by heavily-hunted roads with complex patterns of diel selection and avoidance of these features, whereas transients did not. Our results, indicated that most transient coyotes selected linear features, whereas the response of resident coyotes was mixed. Exploratory residents often exhibited intermediate resource selection and avoidance responses compared to residents and transients. Interestingly, exploratory residents exhibited the strongest selection or avoidance of linear features. Our findings provide robust evidence that by having a refined ability to select or avoid landscape features at larger spatial scales and response to temporally-limited resource pulses, a cognitive map can improve the foraging ability of an individual and could lead to increased fitness.