GENETIC ANALYSIS OF FECAL DNA TO STUDY URBAN COYOTE DIET IN SAN FRANCISCO
|Tali Caspi; University of California, Davis; email@example.com; Monica Serrano, Stevi L. Vanderzwan, Benjamin N. Sacks
Carnivores are increasingly establishing in urban environments where they were previously absent. Cities are novel ecosystems, with greater heterogeneity in habitat and food availability and different prey assemblages compared to nonurban areas. Coyotes (Canis latrans) recolonized and established a breeding population in San Francisco in the early 2000s. To understand how urbanization influences coyote diet, I am using non-invasive sampling and DNA metabarcoding to (1) characterize diet at the population and individual level and (2) explore associations among social and genetic structure of the population and diet. As part of a pilot study, I used DNA metabarcoding to quantify the diet composition of 71 coyote scats collected across several urban green spaces in San Francisco. Diets of coyotes were diverse (10, 8, and 1 species of wild mammals, birds, and amphibians, respectively), and most scats contained evidence of anthropogenic foods (livestock DNA or cereal crops) and various fruits. Future work on a larger collection of scats will assess the influence of relatedness, social proximity, and landscape factors to describe patterns and drivers of inter-individual variation in the nutritional ecology of urban coyotes across San Francisco.