Ashley Wurth's Graduate Exit Seminar
Ashley will present Behavior and Genetics Aspects of Boldness and Aggression in Urban Coyotes (Canislatrans) at 1P.M. in Kottman 245 on November 16th, 2018.
Coyotes inhabit a spectrum of rural to highly developed landscapes. To decrease human-coyote conflict, it is important to analyze how urbanization may influence coyote behavior and genetics and ultimately coyote relationships with humans. This dissertation researched coyote behavior and genetics across a variety of urbanization levels in Illinois, from rural to the urban core of Chicago. Through genotyping regions or specific SNPs associated with behavior (particularly boldness and aggression) in other species, I detected genetic polymorphisms in the coyote and also found differences in genotypic frequency based on landscape type. Behavioral actions in Chicago Metropolitan Area coyotes were recorded across six contexts and tested for a relationship between boldness and aggression. Coyotes exhibited varying behavioral actions within contexts, with low boldness and aggression average scores across all contexts and measures. Urban individuals were more likely to be bold and more likely to be aggressive but there was no support for a boldness-aggression syndrome, as there was no linear relationship between boldness and aggression. Lastly, we found several behavioral markers correlated with boldness and/or aggression. Overall, coyotes had polymorphism within behavioral regions and exhibited various behaviors whose frequencies differed based on landscape type. Therefore, coyote boldness and aggression may be under genetic control with urban conditions acting as a selective pressure.