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BMC Ecol. 2012 Dec 13;12:27. doi: 10.1186/1472-6785-12-27.

Application of change-point analysis to determine winter sleep patterns of the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) from body temperature recordings and a multi-faceted dietary and behavioral study of wintering.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedicine/Anatomy, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P,O, Box 1627, FI-70211, Kuopio, Finland. Anne-Mari.Mustonen@uef.fi

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A multi-faceted approach was used to investigate the wintertime ecophysiology and behavioral patterns of the raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides, a suitable model for winter sleep studies. By utilizing GPS tracking, activity sensors, body temperature (Tb) recordings, change-point analysis (CPA), home range, habitat and dietary analyses, as well as fatty acid signatures (FAS), the impact of the species on wintertime food webs was assessed. The timing of passive bouts was determined with multiple methods and compared to Tb data analyzed by CPA.

RESULTS:

Raccoon dogs displayed wintertime mobility, and the home range sizes determined by GPS were similar or larger than previous estimates by radio tracking. The preferred habitats were gardens, shores, deciduous forests, and sparsely forested areas. Fields had close to neutral preference; roads and railroads were utilized as travel routes. Raccoon dogs participated actively in the food web and gained benefit from human activity. Mammals, plants, birds, and discarded fish comprised the most important dietary classes, and the consumption of fish could be detected in FAS. Ambient temperature was an important external factor influencing Tb and activity. The timing of passive periods approximated by behavioral data and by CPA shared 91% similarity.

CONCLUSIONS:

Passive periods can be determined with CPA from Tb recordings without the previously used time-consuming and expensive methods. It would be possible to recruit more animals by using the simple methods of data loggers and ear tags. Hunting could be used as a tool to return the ear-tagged individuals allowing the economical extension of follow-up studies. The Tb and CPA methods could be applied to other northern carnivores.

PMID:
23237274
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3549453
Free PMC Article
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