Abstract

The gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, is a medium-size canid widely distributed in México. Most studies on this species focus on habitat use, home range, diet, intraguild competence, and lanscape distribution between urban and rural sites. In central Veracruz, gray foxes are present in fragments of cloud forest and in shaded coffee plantations; nevertheless, its abundance has not yet been compared among other vegetation types found in the area, such as sugarcane plantations. In this study we described gray foxes abundance variations using 500 m transects, among sugarcane plantations, shaded coffee plantations, and cloud forest fragments throughout eight months, by scat counting in three sites of each cover type. We reported the relative abundance index for each cover type and each month, and evaluated its relationship with four landscape features: (a) shade percent, (b) trail density, (c) human population density, and (d) habitat juxtaposition, in influence areas of 450 ha around sampling sites. Abundance comparison among cover types showed lower abundances in cloud forest fragments and higher abundances in coffee and sugarcane plantations. No significant differences were found throughout months (p = 0.476). We proposed that higher abundances in plantations may be related to the presence of rodent plagues and fruit trees which offer food resources to gray foxes. The evaluation of landscape features showed that only medium-impact trail density and human population density were positively correlated with gray fox abundance; fact that demonstrates that this canid can coexist with humans in rural sites. We highlight the gray fox capacity to take advantage of heterogeneous landscapes.

 

Keywords: abundance, cloud forest, coffee plantation, gray fox, landscape, sugarcane plantation, Urocyon cinereoargenteus