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As habitat generalists, urban coyote (Canis latrans) populations often utilize an abundance of diverse food sources in cities. Within southern California, domestic cats (Felis catus) comprise a higher proportion of coyote diets than in other studied urban areas throughout the United States. However, it is unclear which ecological factors contribute to higher rates of cat depredation by coyotes in this region. While previous research suggests that coyote presence may have a negative effect on free-ranging domestic cat distributions, few studies have determined whether urban green spaces affect coyote or free-ranging domestic cat occurrence and activity within a predominantly urbanized landscape. We placed 20 remote wildlife cameras across a range of green spaces and residential sites in Culver City, California, an area of Los Angeles County experiencing pronounced coyote-domestic cat conflict. Using data collected across 6 months from 2019–2020, we assessed the influence of green space and prey species (i.e., cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.) and domestic cats) on coyote habitat use and activity. Coyotes exhibited a preference for sites with higher amounts of green space, while domestic cat habitat use was high throughout our study region. Although cottontail rabbit habitat use was also highly associated with urban green space, neither cottontails nor domestic cats appeared to temporally overlap significantly with coyotes. Unlike other cities where coyotes and domestic cats exhibit strong habitat partitioning across the landscape, domestic cats and coyotes spatially overlapped in green space fragments throughout Culver City. We suggest that this pattern of overlap may be responsible for the frequent cases of domestic cat depredation by coyotes in Culver City.

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This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed.

Recommended Citation

Davenport RN, Weaver M, Weiss KCB, Strauss EG. 2022. Spatiotemporal relationships of coyotes and free-ranging domestic cats as indicators of conflict in Culver City, California. PeerJ 10:e14169