Spatiotemporal dynamics of mesocarnivore populations

23 July 2018

No last name for Mongolian people, Xingan; Wang, Guiming

Mammalian mesocarnivores play critical roles in ecosystems via the trophic interactions. The fluctuation of mesocarnivore abundance may cause trophic cascading throughout the ecosystems. However, little was known about density dependence and spatiotemporal dynamics of mesocarnivore populations. Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a common mammalian mesocarnivore in North America, and is the host of many human infectious diseases. Few studies have investigated density dependence and hierarchical spatiotemporal dynamics of raccoon populations. We used 23-year time series of raccoon relative abundance from 14 wildlife management areas in Mississippi, USA, to test for spatial synchrony of raccoon populations with nonparametric correlation functions. We developed non-Gaussian state space models to detect density dependence of raccoon populations, and also used dynamic factor analysis (DFA) to determine the structure of the spatiotemporal dynamics of raccoon populations. The 14 raccoon populations lacked common trends, and were not synchronized. Strength of density dependence varied among raccoon populations, but was not related to the amount of hardwood forests. Differences in the structure of density dependence probably prevented populations from being synchronize by climatic variability. The raccoon populations exhibited greater local or idiosyncratic variability than regional variability in Mississippi. Northern raccoons have plastic life history traits permitting their population dynamics to closely track local variations in resource availability.